Saturday, 13 June 2015
Pill that could halt prostate cancer...
by RORY CLEMENTS, Daily Mail 12th June 2015
A once-a-day pill has been approved in Britain for use in the early stages of prostate cancer following a massive trial that showed it could reduce the risk of the disease progressing in 42 per cent of men.
Prostate cancer is known to 'feed' on the male hormone testosterone, but Casodex, which is a hormone-based drug, 'starves' the cancer by preventing testosterone getting to it. It works on receptors in the cells.
In the trial, Casodex was used alongside standard treat-ments of surgical removal of the prostate, radiotherapy or merely careful watching of the disease's development, often slow.
Those on the drug fared far better than those on a dummy pill. Many men's biggest fear is that treatment for prostate cancer will make them impotent and kill their love life.
Casodex has a vital advantage over some other hormone treatments in that it significantly reduces the risk of impotence.
Whereas other drugs block production of testosterone, Casodex allows testosterone to remain in the blood stream, but it doesn't allow it to get to the cancer.
Some hormone treatments cut off the supply of testosterone completely and in effect amount to 'chemical castration'. The new study, the world's biggest-yet prostate cancer trial, followed the fortunes of over 8,000 men in 23 countries, including Britain.
Dr Heather Payne, consultant clinical oncologist at the Middlesex Hospital, London, says: 'Most men feel that to be actually doing something to prevent the cancer coming back actually makes you feel more positive.
'And you don't want to have a treatment that is going to make you feel so dreadful that you start wondering whether it's worth having the medication. But this drug is well tolerated and doesn't harm the quality of life.'
Casodex has been used for many years in treating advanced prostate cancer, but this is the first time it has been studied and approved for use in the early stages.
'Before, people would just have the surgery or radiotherapy,' says Dr Payne. 'In this study, they had the surgery or radiotherapy and were then randomly given either Casodex or a placebo to see if that would improve results over the surgery or radiotherapy alone - and the drug did.'
Not only did it stop the disease progressing in 42 per cent of men against those who took the placebo, it also prevented the cancer spreading to the bones in a third of the patients. When the cancer gets to the bones it can be extremely painful.
Widower Alec Taylor, 70, a retired English teacher of Primrose Hill, North London, discovered he had early prostate cancer in 1997 after seeing his GP for a checkup and agreed to go on the Casodex trial.
He learned last week that he was one of those taking the real pill rather than the placebo. He is presently clear of cancer.
He said: 'The bad news was that I had cancer - the good news was that the tumour was very small. My treatment started in January 1998. The radiotherapy went on for 32 sessions over six weeks. I thought I'd go potty.'
'Then they mentioned the Casodex trial and I was told I could go on it if I wanted. I thought it was for the benefit of science, so I agreed to it and stuck it for two years. The great difficulty was to remember to take the things, same time every day. I missed only four.'