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Sunday, 13 May, 2001, 23:04 GMT 00:04 UK
Prostate cancer drug 'encouraging'
Thousands of UK men suffer from prostate cancer
A hormone treatment tablet has proved successful in treating prostate cancer in men with early signs of the disease.

Scientists are encouraged by the results of the largest ever treatment trial, which found Bicalutamide 150mg, a hormone treatment given as a once daily tablet, "significantly" reduced the risk of the disease progressing in men with early prostate cancer.

They believe it may have a major impact on the thousands of men diagnosed with the disease in the UK each year.

The international trial showed that patients taking Bicalutamide in addition to standard care (surgery, radiotherapy or watchful waiting) had a 42% lower risk of their prostate cancer progressing compared with patients receiving standard care alone, after a follow up of three years on average.

This drug is going to have a major impact

Dr David Dearnley, cancer specialist

Dr David Dearnley from the Institute of Cancer Research said: "The preliminary results are very encouraging and interesting.

"My own view is that this drug is going to have a major impact and I suspect it will have a very wide role."

Casodex, the trade name for Bicalutamide, is widely available to doctors and often preferable to other hormone treatment drugs on the market because it causes less dramatic side effects, which can include impotence, osteoporosis and cardio-vascular complications.

Early treatment

Men may be cured of prostate cancer if the disease is found and treated at an early stage.

The results of the Early Prostate Cancer Programme, which involved more than 8,000 men, show a benefit to this patient group.

Dr Ian Banks, member of the British Medical Association Council and the General Practitioner Committee and President of The Men's Health Forum said: "Prostate cancer is about 10 years behind breast cancer in terms of awareness and early diagnosis is key to increasing survival rates in the UK.

"All men should watch for signs of prostate cancer, particularly if a member of their family has been diagnosed.

"Men must see their doctor if they are concerned about the disease."

The results of the study are being announced on Monday at a meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in San Francisco.

Nearly 21,000 men a year are diagnosed with prostate cancer in the UK and over 10,000 die as a result of the disease.

Historically, prostate cancer was considered a disease of old age but a recent study spanning two decades shows that it is becoming increasingly prevalent in younger men.

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