Earlier abiraterone shows survival benefit

Adding abiraterone (Zytiga) to standard hormone therapy at the start of treatment in men with advanced prostate cancer improves survival by 37%, according to trial results published in the New England Journal of Medicine (http://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMoa1702900).

In the study, part of the large STAMPEDE trial, 1900 patients were given either standard hormone therapy or abiraterone. 83% of patients receiving both abiraterone and hormone therapy were alive three years after starting treatment, compared with 76 per cent of patients who only received hormone therapy. There was also a 70% reduction in disease progression.

Professor Nick James, Chief Investigator of the Cancer Research UK-funded trial, says: ‘These are the most powerful results I’ve seen from a prostate cancer trial – it’s a once in a career feeling. This is one of the biggest reductions in death I’ve seen in any clinical trial for adult cancers.’

‘Abiraterone is already used to treat some men whose disease has spread, but our results show many more could benefit. In addition to the improvements in survival and time without relapse, the drug reduced the rates of severe bone complications, a major problem in prostate cancer, by more than a half. I really hope these results can change clinical practice.’

According to Sir Harpal Kumar, Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK: ‘These results could transform the treatment of prostate cancer. Abiraterone can clearly help many more prostate cancer patients than was first thought.’

Abiraterone was originally approved by NICE for use after chemotherapy and more recently before chemotherapy. NICE will now review the drug’s use even earlier in the disease.

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