Fast-track drug gives hope for prostate cancer as it could extend life expectancy for patients whose disease has spread
- The chance of a longer life could be increased by a third, according to studies
- NHS will begin offering the drug to eligible patients in the coming weeks
- Drug already available on the NHS for patients with localized prostate cancer, but will now be offered to those whose cancer has spread
About 9,000 men with one of the most advanced forms of prostate cancer are eligible for a new life-extending drug thanks to a fast-track deal.
The NHS in England becomes the first healthcare provider in Europe to roll out Darolutamide to patients whose prostate cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
Trials of the drug have shown that the chance of living longer has increased by a third in men who previously went untreated.
The drug works by blocking androgen receptors in cancer cells, which in turn blocks the effect of testosterone, allowing the cancer cells to survive and multiply.
A 3D stock view of cancer cells attacking and growing on a human cell
Darolutamide, also known by the brand name Nubeqa, could help prolong the life of prostate cancer patients
Darolutamide, also known by the brand name Nubeqa, is already available on the NHS for some patients with localized prostate cancer.
This offer is now being extended to cover those whose cancer has spread after NHS England signed an early access agreement.
The drug is usually taken as a tablet with food and in combination with androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) and docetaxel chemotherapy.
The trial, which took place at nearly 300 sites around the world, found that patients who received Darolutamide were 32.5 percent less likely to die than those who received ADT and docetaxel alone.
The health service said it will begin offering the drug to eligible prostate cancer patients within weeks. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and around 47,000 people are diagnosed with prostate cancer in England each year.
What is Darolutamide?
- Darolutamide (or Nubeqa) is a type of hormone therapy for men whose prostate cancer has stopped responding to other types of hormone therapy, but has not yet spread to other parts of the body.
- Prostate cancer cells usually need the hormone testosterone to grow. Darolutamide works by blocking the effect of testosterone on prostate cancer cells.
- Darolutamide will not cure your prostate cancer, but it may help control it. It has been shown that some men take longer for their cancer to spread to other parts of the body (advanced prostate cancer). This means it can help delay the symptoms of advanced prostate cancer in these men and delay the need for further treatments such as chemotherapy.
Source: Prostate Cancer UK
Nearly 9,000 suffer from aggressive prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.
NHS director Amanda Pritchard said: ‘It is fantastic that patients in England will be the first in Europe to receive this treatment for a very advanced and aggressive form of prostate cancer, thanks to the NHS fast-tracking a new drug deal.’
Chiara De Biase, director of support and advocacy at the charity Prostate Cancer UK, said: ‘Being told you have advanced prostate cancer can be devastating and we urgently need new treatments to help these men live longer.
“That’s why it’s fantastic that thousands of men are getting early access to Darolutamide alongside traditional hormone therapy and chemotherapy, which could vastly improve their survival.”
Professor Peter Johnson, NHS National Director for Cancer, said: ‘We know that prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and it is vital that the NHS continue to diagnose patients as early as possible and expand our arsenal of advanced treatments to improve people’s chances of survival.
“Building on the NHS ambition to improve cancer care and survival, this innovative treatment will help thousands of men diagnosed with prostate cancer lead better lives, reducing their risk of dying by a third.”