A breakthrough triple therapy for advanced prostate cancer can give patients a more healthy life and reduce the overall risk of death by a third.
The treatment involves two standard therapies alongside a powerful new hormone medication, darolutamide.
The new drug has already proved to be effective as a stand-alone treatment in the earlier stages of the disease when given to men who have stopped responding to other medications.
But a pivotal trial has now shown that when combined with standard therapies it also has a dramatic effect in patients whose cancer has spread throughout the body, DailyMail reports.
Although a cure isn’t possible for these men, using darolutamide, chemotherapy and other hormone medicines reduced pain, slowed the progression of the disease and extended survival.
The men on the trial were mostly in their late 60s, but one of the patients was 89.
Those given the new combination therapy went for four years before their cancer began to progress, while in patients given the standard treatments alone their cancer worsened after just six months.
Professor Alison Birtle, a consultant clinical oncologist at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, called the advanced treatment ‘exciting’.
“We’ve never had the option of a triple therapy like this before. This study provides a compelling argument for adding darolutamide to standard chemo and hormone treatment, as it will help men with advanced prostate cancer live longer, healthier lives, with less pain.”
For Nigerian men, prostate cancer is both the most common and most deadly cancer with 32·8 cases and 16·3 deaths per 100 000 men. This is more than double the mortality in North America, with an estimated 80% of Nigerians incurable on diagnosis, according to The Lancet.
For those men with earlier-stage disease, surgery is typically offered to remove the prostate – and tumour within – in the hope of a cure.
If they reject surgery, which men often do as the procedure can lead to incontinence and erectile dysfunction, they are offered drugs to limit the amount of the male hormone testosterone they produce, which prostate cancers use to grow.
Darolutamide, according to experts, works by binding to tumour cells, preventing testosterone from reaching them.
In 2020, the drug was approved for NHS use after showing success in treating men with early-stage prostate cancer that was resistant to the usual hormone drugs.
However, the new trial, according to the DailyMail report, showed it also has a remarkable effect on those who may once have been considered lost causes.
A total of 1,306 newly diagnosed prostate cancer patients were split into two groups in the study. Both were given the chemotherapy drug docetaxel and standard testosterone-limiting therapy, but one group was given additional darolutamide, while the other was given placebo or dummy tablets.
In the group given darolutamide there was a 32 per cent reduced risk of death and a 65 per cent increase in progression-free survival – the time before the disease begins to advance again.
One patient to have benefited from the triplet treatment is father-of-three and grandfather-of-nine, Roger Downes, 78.
The retired airport worker from Essex was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer five years ago, after being rushed to Accident & Emergency for suffering pain in his groin and blood in his urine.
Scans showed the disease had already spread into his pelvis.
He had eight weeks of chemotherapy along with standard hormone pills and darolutamide – and continued on the tablets after the chemo had finished. He has been on them ever since.
“The cancer has disappeared from my pelvis and I’m told my PSA levels [a chemical released in high levels by the prostate when diseased] are normal. Now I wake up and think, today is another good day. I take two pills every morning and two before bed. I play bowls, I walk a lot and I feel healthy.”