'Revolution' in prostate cancer treatment as new drug approved in Scotland

A “revolution” in prostate cancer treatment has been welcomed in Scotland after the approval of a new drug on the NHS.

Scotland has become the first UK nation to approve olaparib, for men with advanced prostate cancer who have certain genetic mutations and have stopped responding to certain drugs.

But charity Prostate Cancer UK said hundreds of men may miss out on the drug, as there is a lack of funding for genetic tests to determine whether or not they could benefit.

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The drug has been approved for men with advanced prostate cancer who have a BRCA1 and/or BRCA2 genetic mutation and have stopped responding to abiraterone or enzalutamide.

Prostate cancer affects one in ten men in Scotland.

The charity called on the Scottish Government to urgently release more funding and carry out testing more widely.

“Olaparib represents a revolution in prostate cancer treatment and we’re delighted that men in Scotland will soon be able to benefit from its life-extending effects,” said Dr Matthew Hobbs, Director of Research at Prostate Cancer UK.

“However, without investment in vital genomic testing services, hundreds of men won’t be able to access the tests they need to find out if they could benefit from this drug.

“Today, we’re urging the Scottish government to make more funding available for BRCA testing, to ensure no man misses out on the chance of additional months of life.”

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Rob Jones, Professor of Clinical Cancer Research at the University of Glasgow, said it is “essential” that testing is widened.

"For these men, olaparib could delay the need for chemotherapy and extend survival, potentially making a real

difference to their lives,” he said.

"It is now essential that men with this type of prostate cancer have access to BRCA testing to determine their eligibility for treatment.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “In our Programme for Government, we committed to invest in our NHS Genetic Laboratories and frontline genetics services in order to embed genomics medicine into routine healthcare.

"We’re working closely with the Scottish Genomics Leadership Group, the Scottish Genetics Laboratory Consortium and NHS National Services Division to plan our future genomics medicine service to ensure new medicines requiring a genetic test are available to patients.”

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