An international study involving Irish patients has found that men with advanced prostate cancer who were taking a specific drug, lived 33% longer than patients on standard treatment.
The Australian-led cancer trial involved almost 200 patients from Ireland and the UK. The Irish patients participated through Cancer Trials Ireland, which is responsible for coordinating cancer trials in this country.
Cancer trials can provide patients with free access to promising new treatments, which is some cases, can only be accessed through such a trial. These treatments have the potential to improve the quality of lives of patients, and even extend their lives.
These latest findings relate to phase three of the ENZAMET cancer trial, which saw men with advanced hormone-sensitive prostate cancer being given the drug, enzalutamide.
Prof Ray McDermott, a consultant medical oncologist at Tallaght University Hospital, led the Cancer Trials Ireland team. It was was responsible for enrolling 195 patients from seven hospitals in Ireland and 10 hospitals in the UK to the trial, as well as managing and monitoring their participation during the last five years.
Prof McDermott noted that while the benefits of enzalutamide as a treatment for late stage prostate cancer have already been established, the ENZAMET trial was the first to quantify the benefits of the drug for men with newly diagnosed advanced prostate cancer that is hormone sensitive.
He described this as a ‘breakthrough trial and a very exciting result' for men with this type of cancer.
"The results are better than we expected. The trial focused on men with newly diagnosed hormone-sensitive prostate cancer, which had spread to other parts of their body and compared the effectiveness of enzalutamide with current standard treatments.
"We found that men with advanced prostate cancer taking enzalutamide lived 33% longer than patients who were not taking the drug. We also found that it took 60% longer for cancer to start growing again in patients taking the drug," Prof McDermott explained.
He said that the findings mean that men with this type of cancer can start treatment earlier and can look forward to ‘significantly improved outcomes'.
We're now studying biomarkers among trial participants to identify who will benefit most from enzalutamide," Prof McDermott added.
Speaking about the findings, Cancer Trials Ireland CEO, Eibhlin Mulroe, highlighted the importance of such trials.
"The ENZAMET cancer trial had 1,125 participants from Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK and the US. Half of the 195 men from Ireland and the UK who participated in the trial received the current standard of care and the other half received enzalutamide before it was available through the health service, which is one of the great benefits for patients having the support of a robust cancer trials network," she noted.
Irish participating hospitals included Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, Galway University Hospital and University Hospital Waterford.
The findings were presented at the recent American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Scientific Meeting in Chicago. They are also published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
For more information on Clinical Trials Ireland, click here.
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