Drug that can delay prostate cancer for over a year in terminal patients is approved

The drug could be rolled out in the NHS before the end of the year, Thomas Kingsley reports

Saturday 13 August 2022 19:23 BST
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men (PA)

A prostate cancer drug for terminal patients that can put the disease on hold for a year has been approved by UK regulators.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has ruled in favour of Pluvicto, which could delay the progression of the disease by more than a year.

Cancer experts said it was a “major clinical advance”, giving fresh hope to men with metastatic disease.

The drug could now be rolled out in the NHS before the end of this year. More than 50,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year, making it the most common form of cancer in men, with more than 12,000 annual deaths from the illness.

More than three quarters (78 per cent) of men diagnosed with the disease survive for more than 10 years, but this proportion has barely changed over the past decade in the UK, largely because the disease is typically detected at a relatively late stage.

Trials involving the drug found it could delay disease progression by 12.5 months on average, with a four-month improvement on overall survival when compared with traditional treatments.

Six months after treatment, 65 per cent of patients given the drug, made by Novartis, had no worsening of the disease, compared with 28 per cent of those given radiation therapy and hormone treatments.

Charities said the breakthrough could give new hope to around 3,500 men with advanced disease, which does not respond to the main forms of treatment.

Steve Allen, acting chair of the Tackle Prostate Cancer patient organisation, said the approval was “another positive milestone for eligible patients and their families”.

“Far too many people are still dying each year from prostate cancer. Tragically, those diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer will only have about a one in two chance of surviving for five years,” Mr Allen said.

“There continues to be a real and pressing need for better treatments for people with advanced prostate cancer. This new approach is very welcome.”

Professor Johann de Bono, professor of experimental cancer medicine at the Institute of Cancer Research in London and consultant medical oncologist at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This is a major clinical advancement for people with advanced prostate cancer who have recurrent disease after androgen receptor pathway inhibitors and chemotherapy.

“Results from the Phase III Vision study have shown the significance of this precision medicine for patients with advanced prostate cancer, and it is encouraging to see such innovations being recognised by the MHRA with this licensing authorisation.”

The move comes as scientists argued that public health messaging around prostate cancer might be hampering efforts at early detection by placing a misleading focus on urinary symptoms.

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