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ASCO 2017: Using targeted cancer drugs earlier in treatment – abiraterone benefits prostate cancer patients at diagnosis


Sarah Wells reviews clinical trial data presented at ASCO showing that prostate cancer drug abiraterone – discovered at the ICR – could have even greater benefits when used at the start of treatment.

Posted on 06 June, 2017 by Sarah Wells

Abiraterone Abiraterone tablets

Abiraterone is a drug we’re particularly proud of here at The Institute of Cancer Research. We discovered it in our labs, and helped lead its clinical development for men with advanced prostate cancer.

So we were delighted to see the release of new results from a large clinical trial showing that abiraterone could have even greater benefit for patients when used earlier on in the course of treatment – indeed right from diagnosis.

The trial, called STAMPEDE, tested use of abiraterone as a first-line treatment alongside hormone therapy in patients who had been newly diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. 

Increased survival

Results were presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago at the weekend, and showed the treatment improved the chance of survival by 37 per cent compared with hormone therapy alone.

Of the patients who received both abiraterone and hormone therapy, 83 per cent were alive three years after starting treatment, compared with 76 per cent of patients who only received hormone therapy.

The trial involved researchers here at the ICR and our partner The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust. It is one of the largest ever trials of its kind, looking at more than 9,000 prostate cancer patients to see if adding treatments to standard hormone therapy in the first line improves overall survival.

Traditional hormone therapy blocks the action of androgen hormones, such as testosterone, which prostate cancer cells need to grow. But abiraterone goes further, by targeting and inactivating the process for producing androgen hormones in the first place.

Find out about some of our other prostate cancer success stories.

Read more


A clear benefit 

The STAMPEDE trial shows that there is a clear benefit in adding abiraterone to standard hormone therapy in patients who are newly diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer.

Abiraterone was originally approved by the European Medicines Agency for use after chemotherapy in 2011. Thanks to a NICE decision last year, abiraterone is now available before chemotherapy as well. The results from the STAMPEDE trial show that the drug could benefit patients with advanced prostate cancer even earlier, when they are first diagnosed.

Since abiraterone was first approved, it has already transformed treatment for hundreds of thousands of patients with advanced prostate cancer worldwide. If this drug is made available from diagnosis, even more patients will be able to benefit.

NICE has announced that it will be assessing abiraterone for use in these men. We are hopeful that this latest evidence from the STAMPEDE trial will soon lead to a change of practice in the clinic, and approval of abiraterone as a first-in-line treatment.


abiraterone clinical trials prostate cancer Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust ASCO
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