New hope for prostate cancer sufferers

Posted on: 14 October 2010 by Editor at Large

Prostate cancer kills about 10,000 men in Britain every year. It is the most common form of cancer in men.

Now, British scientists are close to developing a simple urine test to identify men at risk. And a drug discovered in the UK could help thousands of men with advanced prostate cancer, experts say.

Scientists have discovered that a protein found in urine is affected by a genetic change linked to the cancer. This could lead to the development of a cheap, reliable test that would enable a mass screening program.

Study leader Dr Hayley Whitaker, from Cancer Research UK charity's Cambridge Research Institute, said: "The protein is easy to detect because it is found in urine and would potentially be a very simple test to carry out on men to identify those most at risk of developing the disease."

Meanwhile, trials of a new drug abiraterone acetate have found that extended the lives of advanced prostate cancer sufferers by an average of four months.

The patients given abiraterone plus a steroid lived for an average of 14.8 months, compared to 10.9 months for the remainder who simply got the steroid. Scans showed that tumour growth halted for longer in the group given the drug.

It has fewer side effects than chemotherapy or radiotherapy, making it a far more attractive prospect for patients.

John Neate, from the Prostate Cancer Charity, said: "These initial findings are particularly important as they offer new hope to men diagnosed with an advanced form of prostate cancer who can quickly run out of treatment options once their tumour stops responding to the existing methods of controlling its progression.”

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