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Drug improves quality of life in men with advanced prostate cancer

The prostate cancer drug enzalutamide improves quality of life in men who haven’t previously received chemotherapy, a major Phase III clinical trial reports.

The study, published in The Lancet Oncology, looked at men’s sense of well-being and experiences of pain in the advanced stages of prostate cancer. In advanced disease, cancer cells spread to bone, causing often severe pain and fractures.

Forty per cent of men taking enzalutamide reported meaningful improvements in their quality of life – significantly higher than the 23 per cent who took a placebo.

The trial enrolled more than 1,700 men diagnosed with late-stage prostate cancer but who had yet to be offered chemotherapy. Enzalutamide is one of a number of new last-line treatments to become available in recent years in advanced prostate cancer, but is not generally prescribed before chemotherapy.

The trial was led in the UK 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. It was funded by Astellas Pharma and Medivation. 

The quality of life of patients was measured using their own diaries and a questionnaire that asked them to record their sense of physical, emotional and social well-being.

Men receiving enzalutamide were also less likely to report severe pain after 13 weeks of treatment than men receiving the placebo, with 29 per cent doing so, versus 42 per cent.

An earlier trial of enzalutamide in men who had previously received chemotherapy, led in the UK by Professor de Bono, found that the drug extends the life of men with prostate cancer, and helped the drug gain approval for use on the NHS.

Professor Johann de Bono said: “As well as helping patients live longer, it is incredibly important that cancer drugs also improve the quality of the life patients are living while they fight the disease. We found that enzalutamide reduced the level of pain and significantly increased quality of life in men with advanced prostate cancer who have not yet received chemotherapy. Our study adds to the evidence that enzalutamide can bring real benefits to patients with prostate cancer.”


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