Following months of intense pressure from us, clinicians and patients, NHS England finally announces that men with newly diagnosed advanced prostate cancer will now be offered immediate access to chemotherapy that could extend their lives by an average of 15 months.

24 Jan 2016

Nurse administering chemotherapy

NHS England has today announced that men newly diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer will now get immediate access to docetaxel chemotherapy, which could extend their lives by an average of 15 months.

Until now, docetaxel chemotherapy had only been offered to men with advanced prostate cancer after hormone treatment has stopped working. But the results of the STAMPEDE trial last year demonstrated the remarkable benefits of introducing the treatment alongside hormone therapy. NHS England would only review the evidence, though, once the research had been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

This finally happened in December in the Lancet. Then thanks to mounting pressure from us, clinicians, and many men who shared their stories, NHS England made sure docetaxel chemotherapy was reviewed in the quickest timeframe possible.

Being given the chance to extend our active lives by another 15 months or so is a really big deal

"The general availability of this treatment in England for advanced prostate cancer sufferers is fantastic news," said Toby, from Devon, who discovered he had prostate cancer that had spread to his lymph nodes and local bones last year. "When on average people in my situation can expect to die from the cancer within a handful of years, being given the chance to extend our active lives by another 15 months or so is a really big deal.

"That’s an extra year to be able to be with my family, enjoying my new grandchildren growing up and finishing off my life’s work. This is a huge victory for all of us who’ve been campaigning to get the NHS to fund this important and affordable new treatment."

NHS England’s positive decision to fast-track the treatment shows the difference that we can make when we take a united front and put pressure on the system together. None of this would have been possible without the men who shared their invaluable experiences with us and gave us a powerful voice during the negotiations with NHS England. With your help we’ve been able to bring about real change for men.

Our focus will now change to making sure specialists across England know that they can use docetaxel earlier on during treatment, so that men can benefit from it without delay. We will also continue to work across the UK nations to ensure that no man, no matter where he lives is denied access to the treatment if he’ll benefit from it.

Earlier docetaxel must become the standard for men who can benefit from it

"Today's announcement is great news for men who are newly diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer that has spread," said our chief executive, Angela Culhane. "This fast-track response to new evidence indicates what can be achieved when there is the will in the system. It must set a precedent for other treatments that demonstrate clear clinical benefit when used in different ways.

"It is now critical that specialists are made aware that this use of docetaxel treatment is available so that no man ever misses out. Earlier docetaxel must become the standard for men who can benefit from it and we will continue applying pressure until we are sure this is the case."

We want to hear of anyone who is having trouble accessing docetaxel in their local area if their clinician thinks they could benefit from it. Please get in touch at campaigns@prostatecanceruk.org

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