14 May 2015
This article is more than 3 years old

Earlier chemotherapy treatment can keep men with advanced prostate cancer alive for longer

‘Game-changing’ results from the world’s largest prostate cancer clinical trial have been released in advance of a major US cancer conference. Sophie Lutter reports.

The first results from the much-anticipated STAMPEDE trial were announced yesterday, ahead of the American Society of Cancer Oncology (ASCO) conference in Chicago.  STAMPEDE is the largest ever prostate cancer clinical trial and was designed to test the effect of giving different treatments for advanced prostate cancer earlier on.

Nearly 3,000 men were involved. These were either men with high-risk locally advanced prostate cancer (cancer that has started to break out of the prostate or spread to the area just outside the prostate); or men with metastatic disease (cancer that has spread to other parts of the body).

Men on the trial were randomly assigned to receive either:

  • hormone therapy alone (standard care)
  • hormone therapy plus docetaxel chemotherapy
  • hormone therapy plus zoledronic acid (normally used to treat cancers that have spread to the bone)
  • or hormone therapy plus docetaxel chemotherapy and zoledronic acid.

The results were striking, and have been creating a buzz in the media already.

Overall, the men taking docetaxel alongside hormone therapy lived for an average of ten months longer than those taking hormone therapy alone. The average life-extension for men whose prostate cancer had spread to other parts of the body was even more dramatic. Men with metastatic prostate cancer, who were taking docetaxel at the same time as hormone therapy, lived for an average of 22 months longer than those taking hormone therapy alone.  

If these results are confirmed when the full results are released, it will be clear that men should have the option of choosing docetaxel chemotherapy alongside hormone therapy when they are first diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer. Having access to chemotherapy earlier in the treatment pathway might also mean that men are stronger and better able to cope with the side effects of treatment.

Director of Research, Dr Iain Frame, said: “The findings of this trial are potentially game-changing – we can’t wait to see the full results at ASCO. Chemotherapy is currently one of the last resort treatments for advanced prostate cancer.  If it is shown to have a much greater impact on survival when prescribed earlier and alongside hormone therapy, that’s incredibly exciting, and we would want to see this brought in to the clinic so it can benefit men without delay.”