A chemotherapy drug called doxcetaxol extends the lives of patients whose prostate cancer has spread. A major study found the drug prolongs their lives by almost two years.
Experts referred to the study's results as a "game changer."
Men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer are first treated with radiation and surgery if the cancer has not spread. If the cancer has spread, they are usually given hormone-depleting therapy, since the cancer is usually driven by testosterone. But although the treatment is usually effective at the beginning, patients typically become resistant. Chemotherapy, like doxcetaxol, is normally given only as a last resort after hormone treatments have failed.
Almost 3,000 men with prostate cancer participated in the trial. The cancers of about 60 percent of them had spread beyond the prostate, and the rest had cancers that were locally advanced.
Some patients were given six doses of doxcetaxol at the beginning of their hormone treatment in addition to hormonal treatment. In general, patients who took doxcetaxol lived 10 months longer, but men whose cancers had spread beyond their pelvis lived 22 months longer.
The men who were given doxcetaxol at the beginning of their treatment survived an average of six years and five months — 10 months longer than those who didn't get chemotherapy. The men whose cancers had spread beyond the prostate and received doxcetaxol lived an average of five years and five months — 22 months longer than the survival rate of three years and seven months among the group that didn't get the combined treatment.
Some experts are calling for doxcetaxol to be routinely added to the treatment for all newly diagnosed prostate cancer patients whose cancers have spread beyond the prostate, and in patients with selected high-risk non-metastatic cancer.
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