Movember: Prostate cancer, largely controllable, still kills; increasing prevalence driving drug development
November 22, 2018 | Disease
It’s November, and if the men around you are sporting especially robust moustaches, don’t worry. It means they are paying attention to their health.
During Movember–a mashup of “moustache” and “November”–men grow out their moustaches to raise awareness of men’s health issues.
It’s not just about awareness: The Movember Foundation is a global charity focused solely on men’s health–especially suicide prevention and mental health, and testicular and prostate cancer.
We’re focusing on prostate cancer. But because it affects only men, and men are less likely to seek preventive care than women, awareness is crucial. Early diagnosis usually means a positive prognosis. But men aren’t getting that early diagnosis.
Overall cancer incidence (1999-2014) and mortality rates (1999-2015) have dropped, according to 2018 Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer. But the news isn’t as positive for prostate cancer. Researchers reported increased incidence of late-stage prostate cancer; they also found that, after decades of decline, prostate cancer mortality has stabilized. Perhaps of greatest concern is an increase in men diagnosed with late-stage prostate cancer that has spread.
Roughly 164,690 prostate cancer diagnoses will be made before the year is over, according to the American Cancer Society. More distressing, 29,430 men will die from the disease. Globally, prostate cancer diagnoses are expected to double to 1.7 million by 2030.
A January 2018 report from Datamonitor Healthcare estimates that the cases of prostate cancer will increase by more than 25 percent between the 2016 and 2036 across the US, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and in the UK.
In the U.S., prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in men, behind lung cancer. That’s one reason Movenber is so important: Not merely that men are dying, but that it’s largely preventable. When caught early, successful treatment and recovery is likely, with 5-year relative survival rates for localized and locally advanced disease approaching 100%. Source: SEER 2018
Given the number of men affected, there’s tremendous incentive for drug development. So it’s little surprise that an array of drugs are approved for prostate cancer. Among the newer ones are anti-androgen medications. By decreasing testosterone levels, they starve the cancer cells. Research has shown that anti-androgen drugs can delay cancer growth, in many cases by years.
Androgen deprivation is, of course, considered a form of chemical castration. However, castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) keeps growing no matter how much the testosterone drops. Treating CRPC remains an unmet need in prostate cancer, which has spurred drug development.
New approaches, new challenges
CRPC drug development will likely change the way that the disease is treated, creating a competitive environment for new market entrants, according to the January 2018 Datamonitor report. Treatment may become more segmented as pipeline drugs with new mechanisms of action
reach the market.
However, novel therapies tend to be expensive and are likely to drive up the cost of treatment. Payers in the U.S. and France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the U.K. have expressed concern about the significant and rising cost of prostate cancer treatment, according to a June 2017 Datamonitor report.
In particular, they are worried about rising costs associated with the use of expensive novel anti-androgens in earlier treatment lines. Patients needing anti-androgens represent larger patient numbers than those with CRPC, and they also require significantly longer treatment durations due
to longer life expectancies and slower disease progression.
So, this Movember…
Development of efficacious therapies for prostate cancer treatment, particularly CRPC, remains an area of high demand. Find out more about the Prostate Cancer Market.
- March, 20 2020