UCL News


New prostate cancer treatments could reach men sooner

11 March 2024

A new study involving UCL researchers has found that better prostate cancer treatments could reach men almost two years earlier than is currently possible.

Conceptual image for viral ethiology of prostate cancer

Currently, it takes around 10 years for new treatments to be studied in large-scale trials. However, the new research showed that the length of time a man lives without his cancer progressing – known as progression-free survival – reasonably predicts how long he will eventually live (‘overall survival’).

As progression-free survival can usually be assessed around two years earlier than overall survival, using it in future trials could make them shorter. This would mean new treatments could reach men with advanced prostate cancer safely, but more quickly than they do now.  The results, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncologyon behalf of the STOPCAP Collaboration, reviewed data from over 8,500 men with prostate cancer in nine different clinical trials.

The team is now working to find out if other earlier measures of prostate cancer control could be used to predict overall survival, such as low levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA) at 7 or 12 months, which could shorten the length of time needed for clinical trials even further.

Professor Jayne Tierney (MRC Clinical Trials Unit at UCL), who was involved in the research, said: “This is a clear example of how the STOPCAP worldwide collaborative effort to share and re-use the valuable data from existing clinical trials can reap rewards for future patients.”

Professor Susan Halabi (Duke University School of Medicine), who led the research, said: “The readout from clinical trials in men with metastatic, hormone-sensitive prostate cancer can take a decade, if survival is used as the main outcome. Our findings have massive implications for future prostate cancer trials – saving time, money, and most importantly lives – by helping them prove a treatment’s effectiveness sooner.

“While the results are promising, the goal is to go one step further and demonstrate to NICE, the US Food and Drug Administration and other regulatory agencies the value of using these surrogate outcomes in new trials. We hope that this is just the first step, and we can find ways to get effective treatments to men even more quickly in the future.”

Dr Hayley Luxton, Research Impact Manager at Prostate Cancer UK, said: “Prostate cancer trials currently take a very long time to find out if a treatment works, so anything that can help new treatments reach men sooner is really exciting.

“This research that we started funding in 2018, could shave up to two years off this process. With so many new treatments currently being researched this could make a huge difference for men.”

This research was funded jointly by Prostate Cancer UK and the Prostate Cancer Foundation and supported by the MRC Clinical Trials Unit at UCL and Duke University, Durham, USA.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. More than 47,500 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year. And, sadly, more than 11,500 men in the UK pass away as a result.

The disease mainly affects men over the age of 50 and the risk increases with age. Also, the threat is higher for black men or those with a family history of prostate cancer.



Media contact 

Poppy Tombs 

E: p.tombs [at] ucl.ac.uk