A new clinical trial conducted on prostate cancer has delivered powerful results according to researchers based in Britain.
Early intervention with a drug intended to relieve the deadly condition produced excellent results, according to a new study.
The trial assessed abiraterone as an additional treatment in patients with prostate cancer who were about to start long-term hormone therapy.
Results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine, with researchers finding that the treatment significantly improved survival rates.
Prof Nicholas James, from the University of Birmingham, who led the research, was extremely enthusiastic about the findings of researchers.
“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 often referred to as Zytiga, and is a hormone therapy.
It is designed to prevent testosterone from reaching the prostate gland, thus meaning that it takes less of a toll on patients than chemotherapy.
Over 2,000 patients were treated during the course of the study.
Over half of the men involved were treated with hormone therapy, with a control group receiving hormone therapy and abiraterone.
Of the 1,917 men in the trial, there were 184 deaths in the combination group, compared with 262 of those provided with hormone therapy alone.
Prof James added that “Abiraterone is already used to treat some men whose disease has spread but our results show many more could benefit.”
The results of the trial were presented at the 2017 ASCO Annual Meeting in Chicago and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Sir Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, suggested that the researchers have a significant impact on the treatment of prostate cancer in Britain.
“These results could transform the treatment of prostate cancer. Abiraterone can clearly help many more prostate cancer patients than was first thought.”
The Institute of Cancer Research also “strongly welcomed” the work of the British scientist.
Prof Paul Workman, chief executive of the Institute of Cancer Research, said he was keen to now see abiraterone reassessed by NICE for use in patients “as early as possible”.
In March, patients with prostate cancer in England were told they could have early access to abiraterone.
Each year around 46,500 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in the UK, and around 11,000 men die from the disease.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) previously stated that abiraterone was not cost-effective for the NHS until cancers were more advanced.