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Cancer drug improves quality of life in men with incurable prostate cancer

The prostate cancer drug enzalutamide improves the quality of life of patients with advanced, incurable prostate cancer, as well as improving survival, a new study published in The Lancet Oncology shows.

The study, of almost 900 men taking part in a major clinical trial of enzalutamide, looked specifically at men’s experience of pain in advanced stages of prostate cancer. In advanced disease, cancer cells spread to bone, causing often severe pain and fractures.

The research was led by Professor Johann de Bono, Professor of Experimental Cancer Medicine at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and Honorary Consultant in Medical Oncology at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust. The AFFIRM trial was funded by Astellas Pharma and Medivation.  

In the study, patients taking enzalutamide were much more likely to report health-related improvements to their quality of life than those taking a placebo, as measured using patients’ own pain diaries and a questionnaire that asked them to record pain. Some 42 per cent reported an improvement in their quality of life, compared with 15 per cent taking placebo, and the drug significantly alleviated both the severity of pain suffered by patients and the degree to which they said it affected their daily lives.

And 13 weeks after starting treatment on the trial, only 28 per cent of patients who took enzalutamide had pain progression, compared with 39% in the placebo group.

Previous analyses of patients on the trial, led in the UK by Professor de Bono, have shown that enzalutamide extends the life of patients with advanced prostate cancer, and have helped lead to the approval of enzalutamide in some men on the NHS.

Study leader Professor Johann de Bono said: “For patients with advanced prostate cancer, bone is the most common site of spread, and the growth of secondary tumours in bone causes some of the most painful and debilitating complications of the disease. While new prostate cancer treatments have helped men to live longer, it’s also vitally important that they help improve quality of life.

“We found that enzalutamide significantly reduces the pain felt by men with advanced prostate cancer, as well as slowing its progression.”


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