'Very lucky' Pioneering drugs keep incurable prostate cancer at bay for 11 years


Jim Thornhill, 81, said: “I feel very lucky. When I discovered the cancer, it had spread into the lymph nodes and gone beyond normal treatment.

“The only option was hormone therapy. I was told about the Stampede clinical trial and was willing. I’ve enjoyed 11 years of good health, thanks to the clinical trial, and seen my grandsons grow up.”

The retired engineer found that he had a prostate problem after having trouble weeing, and a biopsy revealed stage 4 cancer.

Jim was asked to join the Stampede (Systemic Therapy in Advancing or Metastatic Prostate cancer: Evaluation of Drug Efficacy) clinical trial at The Christie Hospital in Manchester.

Within six months his PSA prostate cancer score fell from dangerously high to undetectable. It has been kept at bay with a three-monthly hormone jab, daily abiraterone hormone pill and a steroid.

The Christie trial found in two years that seven per cent of patients died during combination therapy – 15 per cent passed away while on current recommended treatment.

Jim, of Sale, Greater Manchester, praised the trial staff for giving him a normal life with his wife Anne, their two children and four grandsons: “I actually like going to The Christie as I’ve known the team for over a decade and we’re like old friends.

“Anne and I are looking forward to celebrating our 60th wedding anniversary next March.”

Around one in eight men get prostate cancer. Up to 52,000 are diagnosed in the UK every year.

The trial is led by the University College London, The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and The Christie, and is funded by Cancer Research UK and the Medical Research Council.

Prof Noel Clarke, Christie professor of Urological Oncology, said: “This new treatment combination has extended [Jim’s] life. We have very strong evidence that using abiraterone alongside the current standard treatments reduces prostate cancer deaths significantly. This research is a game-changer.”

Abiraterone stops the production of testosterone, helping to control the disease.


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