June 19, 2018

Trial first to show immunotherapy benefit in prostate cancer

06 June 2018, 04:33 | Winifred Adams

Image Some men with prostate cancer could live longer thanks to immunotherapy

Some men with prostate cancer could live longer thanks to immunotherapy

"If we can prove that in the planned new trial, it should be possible to provide some men with advanced prostate cancer with an exciting new treatment option".

The new study involved trial of 258 men, and the trial was conducted jointly by the Institute of Cancer Research, London, and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.

Unfortunately, only 10 - 15% of the patients responded to immunotherapy, making the approach ineffective for the majority of prostate cancer patients.

Eleni Efstathiou, MD, and colleagues at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, studied 197 patients with M0HNPC randomly assigned to receive AA plus leuprolide (99 men) for 8 months or leuprolide alone (98 men). One of them is Michael English (72), who found out he had cancer in 2005.

Prostate cancer patients with weeks or months to live could survive longer after undergoing immunotherapy treatment, a major trial has shown.

He said: "We were astonished when scans showed that the tumour had become undetectable".

Despite falling smoking rates, lung cancer is still Britain's biggest cancer killer, claiming 35,000 lives every year.

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Professor de Bono said: "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".

Scores of men with the most lethal form of prostate cancer have been "brought back from the brink of death" by a drug found to work where all others have failed in a groundbreaking British-led trial.

The researchers from London think that patients that have heavily-mutated cancer respond better to immunotherapy.

It is the first time immunotherapy has been shown to benefit some men with prostate cancer, the researchers said. As a result, there is insufficient evidence about possible differences in treatment efficacy and side effects by race.

Pembrolizumab is one of a suite of drugs called "checkpoint inhibitors" being developed by pharmaceutical companies. The drugs alter the body's immune system that focuses directly on tackling cancer.

They stop cancers turning off the immune system so the body can keep on attacking the tumour.

"African-Americans have a 2.5 times greater chance of dying from prostate cancer compared to whites", said Daniel George, M.D., director of Duke's Prostate & Urologic Cancer program, who presented the findings at the 2018 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago.

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