Sunday, 08 Dec 2019

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Immunotherapy offers hope for men with prostate cancer

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Health Desk- 30 Nov’19: A major trial of an immunotherapy drug has shown it can be effective in some men with advanced prostate cancer.

The men had stopped responding to the main treatment options.

Researchers found that a small proportion of men, described as "super responders", remained well even after the trial ended, despite a very poor prognosis before treatment.

Last week it was reported the same drug had proved effective in treating advanced head and neck cancers.

Immunotherapy uses our own immune systems to recognise and attack cancer cells.

It's already being used as a standard treatment for some cancers such as melanomas - and being tested on many others too.

It found that one in 20 men with advanced prostate cancer responded to the drug pembrolizumab - and saw their tumours actually shrink or disappear altogether.

Although a relatively small number, some of them gained years of extra life, the study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found.

The phase II clinical trial, led by the Institute of Cancer Research and the Royal Marsden, involved 258 men with advanced prostate cancer who had run out of all other options on treatment.