22 Oct 2013

A new study shows that men with advanced prostate cancer who are taking part in clinical trials are living longer than they were 10 years ago.

The research also suggests that the calculations that doctors use to predict life-expectancy should be looked at again in light of the success of new treatments such as abiraterone and cabazitaxel.

Advanced prostate cancer is still incurable, but new treatments are giving men more time to do the things that matter to them with their loved ones.

- Professor Johann de Bono, whose lab carried out the research.

What did the research look at?

The study, which was part-funded by Prostate Cancer UK and led by Professor Johann de Bono's team at the Institute of Cancer Research, looked at about 450 men with advanced prostate cancer that had become resistant to hormone therapy and who were having treatment as part of a clinical trial. It found that on average, men were living far longer than they did 10 years ago and certainly longer than life-expectancy ‘calculators’ are predicting.

Scientists looked at information about a group of men who were treated in clinical trials between 2003 and 2011, and found that on average, these men lived for 40.6 months after being diagnosed with advanced, hormone-resistant prostate cancer.

They also tested life-expectancy ‘calculators’, which are ways that doctors work out how long they expect someone to live for. They found that, on average, the predictions fell short of reality and men were living longer than predicted, by about 9 to12 months.

Why is it important?

This research is important for two reasons. Firstly, it shows that the calculations doctors use to predict life-expectancy are out of date and need to be updated.

And secondly, and arguably most importantly, it also tells us that new treatments for advanced prostate cancer are making a real difference to men’s life-expectancy.   

It can often be hard to see real-life benefits of research, but this study clearly shows that we’ve made definite progress in the last 10 years.

Read more about taking part in clinical trials or new treatments for advanced prostate cancer

If your first type of hormone therapy is no longer working as well, you can read more about second-line hormone therapies and other treatment options.

What the experts say

"This is excellent news and shows the importance of high quality research in leading to better treatments that improve outcomes for men with prostate cancer. Through our partnership with Movember, we are putting £25m into new research over the next three years. And we will keep campaigning so that effective drugs that can give menmore time with their loved ones are made available to them."

Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at Prostate Cancer UK

"We are living through a remarkable period of progress against prostate cancer, with new drugs such as abiraterone transforming the prospects for men with advanced disease. It’s excellent news that men receiving these therapies…are living for somuch longer than they would have been expected to do a decade ago."

Professor Alan Ashworth, Chief Executive of the Institute of Cancer Research, where this work was carried out.

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