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by Robert MacKay, Thursday, July 24, 2008 | Categories: Mens Health

The most aggressive form of prostate cancer affects up to 10,000 men in the United Kingdom every year. This particular form of the disease is also the most deadly as it is resistant to the chemotherapy that is currently available. The typical life expectancy following treatment is only eighteen months. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men.

It was, therefore, with great anticipation that a new drug to treat prostate cancer was announced this week. The drug is called Abiraterone and has been hailed as the most significant breakthrough in the field for seventy years. Before the development of this drug it had been assumed, incorrectly, that prostate cancer was just driven by the sex hormone testosterone that is produced in the testicles. Currently available treatments work on this premise, by actually stopping the testicles from producing testosterone. Experts have now discovered, however, that it is not only testosterone which drives the cancer but also sex hormones from sources around the whole body including hormones which are produced by the tumour itself. Abiraterone does not only block the production of testosterone, but also blocks the production of sex hormones throughout the entire body.

The results were published in the Journal of Clinic Oncology and concern a study of 21 patients with advanced, aggressive prostate cancer. Data has been collected on a total of 250 patients worldwide and the results have all been equally encouraging. Taking the drug resulted in significant tumour shrinkage and caused a drop in levels of a key protein produced by the cancer. This protein is called prostate specific antigen. Many of the patients who took part in the study have said that taking the drug has resulted in a significant improvement in the quality of their lives.

The scientists hope that the drug may also have significant effects in the treatment of patients with other types of cancer, including those with breast cancer. This is an extremely exciting breakthrough in the treatment of prostate cancer. It is hoped that a pill form will be available in two to three years.

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