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A new drug could bring new hope to late-stage prostate cancer patients, it has been revealed.
Half of the 47 men who took abiraterone in a recent trial saw a substantial fall in blood levels of PSA (prostate specific antigen), the biomarker used to track prostate cancer.
Researchers hailed the early trial results as “extremely exciting”.
All the men who took part in the UK and US trial had late-stage cancers that were resistant to typical hormone treatments. In nearly every case, the cancer had spread to the bones.
All had received docetaxel, the only currently approved chemotherapy drug known to benefit patients with advanced prostate cancer.
“Abiraterone shrank or stabilised men’s cancers for an average of almost six months, which is a very impressive result,” said chief investigator Dr Johann de Bono, from the Institute of Cancer Research and Royal Marsden Hospital, based in London and Surrey.
About three-quarters of men experienced a drop in PSA levels, including a fall of at least 50% for around half of the patients in the trial.
The number of circulating tumour cells also fell in three-quarters of cases, another measurement linked to increased survival rates. Many patients noticed a reduction in symptoms.
Five patients are still taking the drug and benefiting from treatment three years after the study started, said the researchers writing in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Copyright Press Association 2010
Journal of Clinical Oncology