A new treatment will be offered to prostate cancer patients whose disease has spread to other parts of the body to give them a better chance of living longer.
The NHS in England will become the first healthcare provider in Europe to offer the drug darolutamide to around 9,000 men who are eligible.
Studies have shown that patients who were previously left untreated saw their chances of living longer increase by one-third after using darolutamide, which is known by its brand name, Nuqeba.
It works by blocking androgen receptors in cancer cells. This, in turn, blocks the effect of testosterone that allows cancer cells to multiply.
The health service in England is able to offer the drug thanks to a fast-tracked approval of darolutamide by the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) through Project Orbis.
Project Orbis is an international partnership between medicines regulators in the UK, US, Australia and other countries. It was set up to speed up the approval process for cancer treatments that have promising results, according to the NHS.
NHS executive Amanda Pritchard said: “It is fantastic that patients in England will be the first in Europe to receive this treatment for a really advanced and aggressive form of prostate cancer thanks to the NHS fast tracking a new drug deal.
“The NHS is continuing to lead the way in securing the best possible treatments for patients – this is the latest in a long list of cutting-edge drugs that we have secured to help people to live longer with cancer, making a huge, life-changing difference to patients and their families across the country.”
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, with around 47,000 people diagnosed with it annually in England. Almost 9,000 people will suffer the more aggressive form of metastatic prostate cancer.
The drug comes in a tablet form and should be taken with food. Combined with androgen-deprived therapy (ADT) and chemotherapy, a trial showed that patients were 32.5 per cent less likely to die than if they underwent ADT and chemotherapy alone.
The trial was carried out across almost 300 sites around the world, including several NHS hospitals.
Professor Peter Johnson, the NHS national director for cancer, added that the treatment “builds on the NHS ambition to improve cancer care and survival rate”.
“We know that prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer among men and it is vital the NHS continues to diagnose patients as early as possible and expand our arsenal of cutting-edge treatments in order to increase the chances of people surviving.”
The NHS said it will start offering the new drug to eligible prostate cancer patients “within weeks”.