The Phase II/III clinical trial (STAMPEDE) currently being conducted by the University of Birmingham, UK, has demonstrated improved survivability of 37% with the use of an additional hormone therapy to treat prostate cancer patients.

The trail evaluated Abiraterone (Zytiga) as an additional treatment in patients scheduled to receive long-term hormone therapy.

Abiraterone is a hormone therapy designed to block the production of testosterone, on which prostate cancer cells depend for growth, while traditional hormone therapies only prevent the hormone’s action.

The trial included a total of 1,917 men, half of which were given hormone therapy alone and the other half received Abiraterone in combination with the hormone therapy.

The results showed 184 deaths in the combination group when compared to 262 observed in the hormone therapy group.

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STAMPEDE’s chief investigator professor Nicholas James said: “Abiraterone is already used to treat some men whose disease has spread but our results show many more could benefit.

"Abiraterone is already used to treat some men whose disease has spread but our results show many more could benefit."

“In addition to the improvements in survival and time without relapse, the drug reduced the rates of severe bone complications, a major problem in prostate cancer, by more than half. I really hope these results can change clinical practice.”

Abiraterone was initially discovered by scientists at Cancer Research UK, which also funded the STAMPEDE trial.

Cancer Research UK chief executive Harpal Kumar said: “The STAMPEDE trial is changing the face of prostate cancer because the flexibility of the trial design means that we can investigate a number of different treatment options rapidly and in parallel, enabling scientists to get results much more quickly than they usually would.”

Based on the trial’s previous results reported last year, docetaxel chemotherapy is being used as a standard-of-care to treat prostate cancer.

Image: Prostate cancer cell image taken using a scanning electron microscope. Photo: © University of Birmingham.