Two new medicines to treat advanced prostate cancer hailed as a ‘breakthrough’ - what it means

Monday, 21st September 2020, 3:36 pm
Updated Monday, 21st September 2020, 3:36 pm
Do you know the symptoms to look for? (Photo: Shutterstock)
Do you know the symptoms to look for? (Photo: Shutterstock)

Two new medicines for treating advanced prostate cancer in men have been hailed as a “real breakthrough” by Prostate Cancer UK.

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The drugs, olaparib and ipatasertib, could potentially become the first ever precision medicines for prostate cancer.

Such medicines take into account the genetics of a person’s cancer, including variability in genes, environment and lifestyle, meaning treatment can be targeted to an individual.

No more ‘one size fits all’

The new research, presented at the European Society for Medical Oncology’s Virtua Congress 2020, claims the two drugs could mark “a new era for prostate cancer treatment”.

Dr Matthew Hobbs, director of research at Prostate Cancer UK, said the results represent a real breakthrough and could benefit thousands of men in the advanced stages of the disease.

Olaparib is currently already approved for breast cancer patients and has been shown to slow the progression of prostate cancer in men whose tumours contain certain gene defects.

The second drug, ipatasertib, is designed to treat men whose cancers lack a specific gene called PTEN, and has shown positive early results in trials.

Dr Hobbs explained: “Olaparib and ipatasertib mark a new era for prostate cancer treatment – one based on a detailed understanding of each man’s cancer rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

“Precision medicines like these hold enormous potential and could radically reduce the number of men dying from prostate cancer by ensuring they receive the best possible treatment for their cancer.

“That’s why we’re continuing to fund research to ensure more men can benefit from precision treatments in the future and ultimately reduce the number of men dying from the disease.”

What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?

According to the NHS, symptoms of prostate cancer can include:

  • needing to pee more frequently, often during the night
  • needing to rush to the toilet
  • difficulty in starting to pee (hesitancy)
  • straining or taking a long time while peeing
  • weak flow
  • feeling that your bladder has not emptied fully
  • blood in urine or blood in semen

The NHS advises that if you experience any of these symptoms you should contact a GP, who can advise on further tests.