#metastatic #prostatecancer and #abiraterone

#metastatic #prostatecancer and #abiraterone

J&J received a UK licence for Abiraterone (trade name Zytiga) just after midnight last night.

The treatment has been proved to have success for some men who have bony metastatic prostate cancer where chemotherapy has failed.

Success is shown by reducing or eliminating bone pain and extending survival by a few months. For most of the men in the trials who have benefited it is the quality of life that is most improved to the extent that they call it the miracle drug.

Eddy who lives in Cardiff is one of those men that has benefited from Abiraterone, he was spending 16 to 18 hours a day in bed feeling his life was over. Now three months later he spends his weekends walking the coast lines of Wales or climbing in the Brecon Beacons.

The caution is that it does not work for every man just a few weeks ago we lost a dear friend and colleague in the prostate cancer awareness campaign. Douglas Gray died of prostate cancer at the end of August it wasn’t the fact he was taking Abiraterone but probably because his cancer was too advanced and the drug came to late for him.

BUT at last we men with metastatic prostate cancer can see some light at the end of the tunnel of this awful disease. We now have FIVE possible treatments for this stage of prostate cancer where 12 months  ago we had only ONE. With more treatments are in the pipeline.

We hope that the drug will receive an urgent review to be included in the NICE guidelines so that it can be available through the NHS. The biggest obstacle will be COST as the treatment is four pills taken once a day at a cost of £3,000 per man per month.

Abiraterone although a great step forward it is NOT a cure it gives a new quality of life to some men and extends their life by a few months.

I have been following the progress of Abiraterone since 2008 when Dr Johan De Bono and his team at the Royal Marsden announced the results of trials they were conducting.

This truly is a landmark in the ongoing search for new treatments of all stages of prostate cancer BUT the issue of early detection and treatment at a stage when a cure is at least possible should not be overlooked.

With early detection using the tools we have now i.e. PSA and DRE testing we could dramatically reduce the need for these very expensive but essential  late stage drugs such as Abiraterone and Provenge.

DRE:- Digital Rectal Examination (takes less than a minute)

PSA:- Prostate Specific Antigen is released by the cancerous prostate tumour into the blood stream so a simple very cheap blood test can detect this.

Men at risk, African/Americans, family history of this disease should have regular PSA/DRE tests (depending on the initial PSA score).

ALL other men should have at the very least an annual PSA/DRE test as part of a well man check.

Remember without good health everything else is just that more difficult.

Keith S Cass

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