7 minutes Adam Gaines

Prostate Scotland welcomes the decision by the SMC to make Olaparib for metastatic castrate resistant prostate cancer available on the NHS in Scotland

11 March 2024 11.55 am

Prostate Scotland welcomes the decision by the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) to make Olaparib available on the NHS in Scotland for metastatic castrate resistant prostate cancer.

Prostate Scotland said:
‘This is very welcome and helpful news as Olaparib with abiraterone has been shown for people who have metastatic castrate resistant prostate cancer and who have not yet had chemotherapy or where chemotherapy is not an option, that it could increase the chances of progression free survival[i]. Its’ availability could in particular be helpful for men with BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene alterations, but potentially also for some other men with hormone/castrate resistant prostate cancer, who have not had previous treatment with abiraterone or chemotherapy’.

‘After a period of time for some men with advanced prostate cancer the hormone treatment can stop being effective and becomes ‘castrate’, or hormone resistant. This can be a difficult time for men – as there are currently limited treatment options for men in this situation. The availability of Olaparib with abiraterone has potential to help this group of men where they have not previously had abiraterone or chemotherapy, through potentially helping slow or stopping the progression of their cancer before needing other treatments’.

‘Delaying progression could mean less impact to the life of a man living with prostate cancer and longer before he has to seek other treatment options which at that stage can be limited and help reduce worry and mental distress to patients.  Prostate cancer can cause considerable emotional and mental distress for those living with it- this is especially true in the case of advanced prostate cancer, where the cancer has metastasised, as this stage of cancer can lead to significant concerns about ill health and mortality’.

Notes to editors:

For further information please contact Prostate Scotland at info@prostatescotland.org.uk or 0131 603 8660

About Prostate Cancer: In many cases where the prostate cancer has not spread, men will be offered surgery or radiotherapy treatments, with a curative intent.  Where the cancer has not yet spread and is locally advanced and still sensitive to hormone treatment it is called non-metastatic hormone sensitive prostate cancer and men will usually be offered hormone treatment/ Androgen Deprivation Treatment (ADT) and radiotherapy to halt the growth of the cancer cells and to try to slow/ halt the cancer from spreading.  Men, where the cancer has spread will usually also be offered hormone treatment/ Androgen Deprivation Treatment (ADT) to halt the growth of the cancer cells.  Where the prostate cancer is still sensitive to hormone treatment it is known metastatic hormone sensitive prostate cancer or mHSPC.  Often men at this stage will be offered abiraterone with prednisone (where they are at high risk of progression), or chemotherapy or Enzalutamide, in addition to ADT. The aim of treatment at this point is to continue to stop the cancer progressing to becoming hormone/castrate resistant. In some men after a period of time the cancer cells may adapt to or get used to lower levels of androgen, which fuels the cancer and start to grow again – this is known as castrate resistant prostate cancer.  In this situation men may be offered novel hormone therapies or chemotherapy, and sometimes Radium 223 if the prostate cancer has spread to the bones. Some men with prostate cancer will have BRCA 1 and 2 gene alterations. BRCA 1/2 genes produce proteins that help repair damaged DNA.  Olaparib works by inhibiting a protein called PARP, which helps cells repair themselves following DNA damage. Stopping cells repair themselves in this way does not impact on healthy cells as they have another way of repairing themselves, but cancer cells don’t have such effective repair systems so that by inhibiting PARP cancer cells can die.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer amongst men in Scotland, with a lifetime chance of one in ten men developing it[ii] There were over 37,009 new registrations of men with prostate cancer between 2008 and 2018 and 9,782 deaths of men in Scotland from prostate cancer during that period[iii]. The most recent figures for Scotland show that in 2021 4265 were diagnosed and 1066 men died from prostate cancer in 2021[iv]. Survival rates amongst men with prostate cancer have encouragingly doubled over the past two decades with 84% of men with prostate cancer now surviving it[v]. Projections by the NHS show that the diagnosis of men with prostate cancer is likely to rise by up to 35% over the decade to 2027[vi].
About Prostate Scotland:  Prostate Scotland is a registered Scottish charity no SC037494. It was set up in 2006 as a Scottish charity to develop awareness of prostate disease, to support men and their families/ partners with the disease through providing advice and information and to advance treatment and research into prostate disease. Its aim is to reach out across Scotland to create greater awareness amongst men and their families/partners about prostate disease and to advance treatment. It has established an award-winning website www.prostatescotland.org.uk providing a wide range of information about prostate disease and treatments, as well as providing information and advice about prostate disease to men and their families across Scotland. In 2010 the charity won a national award for its impact on community health and in 2013 and 2015 was commended in the British Medical Association Patient information Awards, and in 2017 was awarded Scottish health charity of the year

End Notes:

[i] The PROpel Trial trial (N Engl Journal of Medicine  NEJM Evid 2022;1(9)  DOI: 10.1056/EVIDoa2200043 VOL. 1 NO. 9 Abiraterone and Olaparib for Metastatic Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer) showed that use of Olaparib with abiraterone could by comparison with abiraterone and placebo lead to increased progression free survival (the median progression-free survival was 24.8 for those on olaparib and abiraterone vs. 16.6 months for those on abiraterone and placebo). In regard to overall survival research from the trial has also shown that overall survival was not significantly different between those receiving olaparib and abiraterone and those on placebo and abiraterone. The median overall survival of men with prostate cancer on olaparib and abiraterone in the trial was 42·1 months with olaparib plus abiraterone and 34.7 months with placebo plus abiraterone – See Lancet Oncology F. Saad, N. Clarke et al DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S1470-2045(23)00382-https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanonc/article/PIIS1470-2045(23)00382-0/fulltext
The PROpel trial also showed that in patients receiving Olaparib and abiraterone there was a greater PSA response and overall response compared to those receiving the control therapy
[ii] See Cancer Incidence in Scotland 2018 Public Health Scotland April 2020 pp21
[iii] See Cancer Incidence in Scotland 2018 Public Health Scotland April 2020, Cancer mortality in Scotland 2018 Public Health Scotland October 2019
[iv] See Cancer in Scotland Public Health Scotland April 2020 and Scottish cancer registry Cancer mortality in Scotland 2018 Public Health Scotland October 2019 p8 and ISD Cancer in Scotland April 2019 Information Services Division, NHS National Services Scotland and PHS Scotland April 2020 and 2021. Cancer Incidence and Prevalence in Scotland to December 2021- Public Health Scotland 13 June  2023and Cancer Mortality in Scotland 2021 -PHS Scotland 2022
[v] Cancer in Scotland: ISD, NHS National Services Scotland, October 2018 pp 16-2
[vi] See Scottish Cancer Registry May 2016 and Cancer Incidence in Scotland (2014), and Information Services Division NHS National Services Scotland November 2015