Abiraterone is suitable for men with advanced prostate cancer that has stopped responding to other types of hormone therapy. You may hear this called hormone-relapsed or castrate resistant prostate cancer. You can have abiraterone before or after chemotherapy.
Your hospital doctor may offer you abiraterone if you can’t have chemotherapy, or you don’t want to have it yet. Abiraterone may be suitable if you have no symptoms or mild symptoms.
Or you may be offered abiraterone if you’ve had chemotherapy with a drug called docetaxel, and your cancer has stopped responding to this treatment.
If you’ve already had a type of hormone therapy called enzalutamide, abiraterone probably won’t be an option. And if you’ve already had abiraterone, enzalutamide probably won’t be an option. This is because research suggests that men who have already had one of these drugs don’t respond so well to the other drug. However, if you get severe side effects from abiraterone or enzalutamide, you may be able to try the other drug.
If you're having trouble getting abiraterone, even though your doctor thinks it is suitable for you, please let us know.
There is evidence that abiraterone may benefit some men at an earlier stage, when they are first diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. It isn’t available on the NHS, or through the Health and Social Care (HSC) service in Northern Ireland, for these men. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) will be looking at whether abiraterone should be available for some of these men. You can read more about this on our What we think and do page. Until then, men who have just been diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer may be able to have abiraterone earlier if they pay for treatment or have private medical insurance.
Abiraterone or enzalutide?
Abiraterone and enzalutamide are both types of hormone therapy that treat advanced prostate cancer.
Your hospital doctor will talk to you about which drug is most suitable for you. For example, abiraterone may be a better option than enzalutamide if you’ve had:
- any falls
- any seizures (fits) or you have an increased risk of seizures
- extreme tiredness (fatigue)
- problems with memory or concentration.
This is because enzalutamide can increase your risk of these problems.
But enzalutamide may be a better option than abiraterone if your cancer has spread to the liver or lungs, or if you can’t take steroids. Abiraterone must be taken with a steroid.
Some men prefer to take abiraterone because it is less likely to cause tiredness than enzalutamide. But some men find enzalutamide easier to take because, unlike abiraterone, you don’t need to take it on an empty stomach and you don’t need to take steroids.
Speak to your doctor or specialist nurse about which treatments might be suitable for you and when to have them. You can also talk things through with our Specialist Nurses.