Men with untreatable prostate cancer could halt its spread and live longer
06 June 2018, 12:49 | Robert Harris
Image Some men with prostate cancer could live longer thanks to immunotherapy
Speaking with The Independent about the study, lead researcher Professor Johan de Bono explains: "In the last few years immunotherapy has changed the way we treat many advanced cancers - but up to now no one had demonstrated a benefit in men with prostate cancer".
An global trial led by The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust has shown that immunotherapy can benefit men with prostate cancer.
"Our study has found that immunotherapy can benefit a subset of men with advanced, otherwise untreatable prostate cancer, and these are most likely to include patients who have specific DNA fix mutations within their tumors", he said. However, more than a third of those men who have been treated with a new drug, could stop the proliferation of malignant cells.
Professor de Bono said: "We are planning a new clinical trial, specifically in men with prostate cancer whose tumours have mutations in DNA fix genes, to see if immunotherapy can become a standard part of their treatment".
Yes! Now the prostate cancer patients with hardly weeks or months to live will be able to survive longer if they are subjected to proper immunotherapy treatment.
Prostate expert Dr David Graham at Levine Cancer Institute, North Carolina, said: 'These men have the most aggressive type of disease and have been through the gamut of what we have available now.
But after taking into account other factors - such as site of the cancer and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels - the researchers found that black men had a 19 percent lower risk of dying during the study period than white men.
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The results will bring hope to men such as BBC presenter Bill Turnbull, 62, who in March revealed that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer which had spread "to the bone".
An early stage trial, presented at the world's biggest meeting of cancer doctors and scientists in Chicago, is the first to show that this approach works on prostate cancer too.
Such patients had experienced "an wonderful response", he said.
They stop cancers turning off the immune system so the body can keep on attacking the tumour.
The study will focus on marker identification of those prostate cancer patients whose a tumor may shrink post the immunotherapy treatment.
Immunotherapy has become a treatment for cancer, particularly skin and lung cancers. However, the researchers were expecting it, since immunotherapy only works for some patients.
"One of the major challenges with immunotherapy is that we don't have many reliable tests to pick out who will benefit".
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