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Prostate cancer treatment approved in England

The Cancer Research UK logo
by Cancer Research UK | News

30 November 2020

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Prostate cancer cell
Prostate cancer cell. Credit: LRI EM Unit.

Following its approval in Scotland 2 weeks ago, a new treatment will now be available on the NHS in England for some people with prostate cancer.

Currently, androgen deprivation therapy (or ADT) is a cornerstone of prostate cancer treatment as it reduces the level of testosterone (the hormone that helps the growth and spread of the cancer). However, in cases where this treatment doesn’t work, there are no alternatives other than to continue.

But the latest decision changes that. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) approved darolutamide with standard hormone therapies for adults whose prostate cancer hasn’t spread outside the prostate, has stopped responding to ADT (castration resistant) and are at high risk of developing metastatic disease in the future.

“This decision will be welcome news to patients who until now have had no option but to continue with a treatment that their cancer has stopped responding to.” – Kruti Shrotri, head of policy development at Cancer Research UK.

Darolutamide works by blocking the activation of testosterone receptors on cancer cells, thereby limiting the growth of the cancer.

Clinical trial data has shown that individuals taking darolutamide alongside ADT have more time before their cancer spreads outside of the prostate compared to those taking ADT on its own. The data also suggest that this combination increases the length of time people live (overall survival), but the long-term benefits are unclear.

Despite this uncertainty, the treatment is considered to be cost-effective and will now be an option on the NHS in England. NICE decisions are usually adopted by Wales and Northern Ireland, so it’s expected the treatment will be available in all 3 nations.