Novel drug reduces risk of metastatic prostate cancer progression by 81%

• Presented at the 50th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), May 30 – June 03, Chicago IL, USA, the Vall d’Hebron University Hospital and Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO) have participated in an international phase III study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Findings show that the administration of the drug enzalutamide prior to chemotherapy in metastatic prostate cancer patients reduces disease progression of by 81% — consequently postponing initiation of treatment with the latter, and leading to increased survival and improved quality of life for patients.

• Prostate cancer is the most common tumor in men and 25,000 new cases are diagnosed in Spain each year. Among these, between 20 and 30% are patients who have relapsed after becoming resistant to conventional treatment (hormone therapy) – hence the rational and principal reasoning behind the study.

Barcelona, June 01, 2014. An international phase III trial in which 1,717 metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer patients have participated, has shown that administration of the drug enzalutamide prior to chemotherapy not only reduces the risk of death but also delays disease progression. In patients with metastatic (castration-resistant) prostate cancer, tumors no longer respond to hormone treatment aimed at suppressing the male androgen hormones that spur the growth of prostate cancer cells. This ground breaking study demonstrates that administration of enzalutamide prior to chemotherapy in metastatic patients blocks these hormones, allowing for the initiation of chemotherapy to be delayed by up to 28 months.

The trial, in which the Vall d’Hebron University Hospital and Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO) participated, showed an 81% reduction in disease progression in patients who received enzalutamide vs. those receiving the placebo. Importantly, this treatment also shows lower toxicity with hardly any side effects other than fatigue and hypertension.

Up until now, patients with metastatic prostate cancer failing to respond to hormone therapy have had no other alternative than chemotherapy. These latest findings however, prove that in patients with few symptoms, this new therapy can both delay the administration of chemotherapy by up to 28 months and provide a better quality of life.

Joan Carles, co-author of the study and Principal Investigator of VHIO´s Genitourinary, CNS Tumors, Sarcoma & Cancer of Unknown Primary Site Group, observes “Enzalutamide is easy to administer, has very little toxicity, and improves the survival rate and the quality of life of metastatic prostate cancer patients. This is the second drug to demonstrate that we can control this disease by delaying its progression.” He adds, “As a result of the studies carried out over recent years in this field, the survival rate of these patients has doubled to 35-40 months.”

The most common cancer in men

Prostate cancer is the most important and prevalent cancer to affect men, touching the lives of 57 out of every 100,000 men. This means that 25,000 new cases are diagnosed in Spain every year. The standard treatment for this type of cancer involves surgery and radiotherapy which may or may not be paired with hormone therapy (hormone treatment).

Between 20 and 30% of prostate cancer patients will suffer disease relapse with metastasis. Over the last 60 years, hormone therapy has proven the most effective treatment for these cases, although patients ultimately develop resistance after a prolonged period of time. Prior to 2004, these castration-resistant patients had a survival rate of 12 months. Thanks to the development of new and more effective drugs, the survival rate has increased to 3-4 years. 200 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed every year at the Oncology Department of Vall d’Hebron University Hospital, 60 of whom are castration-resistant patients. These patients benefit from the support, connectivity and follow-up of a purely multidisciplinary team comprising experts in Urology, Radiation Oncology, and Medical Oncology.

With strict emphasis on the translational approach to research, investigation carried out at the Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO), and at other comprehensive cancer research centers throughout Europe, is ultimately aimed at novel targeted drug development to combat and conquer resistance to treatments for these patients, improve their quality of life, and extend life expectancy.


For more information please contact:

Amanda Wren

Director of Communication, Vall d´Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO): Tel.: +34 695207886, Email:


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