Thousands of men with prostate cancer may be spared chemotherapy, after study shows that those who are diagnosed early do not benefit from the treatment
- Over 2,000 men showed that docetaxel chemotherapy improved survival rates
- Experts said hundreds of men each year could be spared chemotherapy
- Dr. Hayley Luxton said the results enable clinicians to ‘treat smarter, not harder’
Thousands of men with prostate cancer could certainly be spared chemotherapy, after research showed that some were not helped by it.
A study of more than 2,000 men with advanced prostate cancer showed that docetaxel chemotherapy, on average, improved five-year survival rates.
It was more effective in men with many metastases – meaning the cancer had spread – when it was diagnosed. But men with fewer metastases whose cancer was caught earlier did not give up at all.
Experts said it could make it possible to target chemotherapy to those who want the most benefit, while others may be offered other effective treatments to prolong their lives further and allow them to avoid unnecessary side effects such as fatigue, nausea, hair loss and loss of appetite.
Dr. Hayley Luxton, Research Impact Manager at Prostate Cancer UK, said: ‘This is really exciting because it shows exactly how we can’ treat smarter, not harder ‘and make the most of existing prostate cancer treatments.
‘There have been a lot of new treatments approved for prostate cancer in recent years, but there is still so much we do not know about how they interact with each other and who benefits the most from it.
The study shows that some groups of men get a huge boost to their life expectancy and that they can be targeted to receive the drug as a priority
‘Since the onset of the pandemic, fewer men have received chemotherapy because of its impact on the immune system. However, this analysis shows that some groups of men get a huge boost to their life expectancy and that they could be targeted for receiving the drug as a priority.
‘Other groups get no benefits at all, so they can calmly move on to other treatments.
“All of this paves the way for men to receive more personal, more effective treatments while experiencing fewer side effects.”
Experts said it is likely that hundreds of men each year could be spared chemotherapy based on the results of this research – with the time up to thousands.
Side effects can include fatigue, nausea and nausea, hair loss and loss of appetite.
The study, led by University College London and funded by Prostate Cancer UK, was presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference in Chicago.
Dr. Claire Vale, who presented the data at ASCO, said: ‘Research into new prostate cancer treatments can be incredibly expensive and can take a long time, so this type of analysis that makes the best use of the information we already have can make a big difference.
“Even then, it is extremely rare to find such clear correlations between the patient’s characteristics and how effective their treatment will be. In this case, the evidence is clear and we want to ensure that it is incorporated into clinical practice as soon as possible.”