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Prostate cancer patients given hope

Patients with prostate cancer will be boosted by the news that a new chemotherapy drug is the first treatment that can prolong the life of men with the disease.

Scientists have hailed the drug, cabazitaxel, after tests found men involved in a trial lived an average of 30% longer than those taking other forms of medication.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already approved the drug and researchers hope it can offer an extra lease of life for thousands of men who suffer with the disease every year.

The drug was tested on patients with advanced prostate cancer who had developed a resistance to hormone treatment and docetaxel, another chemotherapy drug.

Patients were randomly assigned to receive an injection for up to a maximum of 10 cycles of cabazitaxel or mitoxantrone - a chemotherapy drug which is given to patients who develop resistance to docetaxel.

The large-scale trial - led by Johann de Bono from The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) and The Royal Marsden Foundation Trust - was conducted in 146 trial sites in 26 countries around the world.

While scientists are confident the drug will be brought into use in Europe, its approval for treatment on the NHS is expected to depend on cost - something which is currently unknown, Dr de Bono said.

It found patients in the cabazitaxel treatment group lived on average 15.1 months compared to 12.7 months for those who used mitoxantrone.

Cabazitaxel blocked cancer growth for twice as long as mitoxantrone (1.4 months compared to 2.8 months), and those who took it found their levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA) - the standard measure of tumour activity - stayed lower for longer.

Cabazitaxel has been approved for use by the FDA, in combination with the steroid prednisone.

Scientists now want to test it on patients at an earlier stage of the disease, including those who have not yet received any chemotherapy.

Around 10,000 men die from prostate cancer in the UK each year, according to Cancer Research figures.

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