Research into treatment for advanced prostate cancer

Before new treatments can be introduced they need to be tested thoroughly. This is so we can be sure that they work and that they are safe. 

Advanced prostate cancer can’t be cured, but treatment aims to control the disease and give a good quality of life for as long as possible.

Targeted cancer drugs

Targeted cancer drugs are drugs which change the way that the cells work. They can boost the body’s immune system to fight off or kill cancer cells. Or they can block signals that tell cancer cells to grow.

GM-CSF is a targeted cancer drug that helps the body’s immune system to work against cancer. Researchers are looking into how this might work in prostate cancer. They are also looking at combining GM-CSF with other types of targeted treatments. These targeted treatments include AdNRGM and CB1954.

PARP inhibitors are another type of targeted drug. They block proteins that help cells repair their DNA damage. Because of this, PARP inhibitors help cancer cells die. Scientists have been looking to see if they can help men with advanced prostate cancer. 

Olaparib is a PARP inhibitor. In October 2021, the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) accepted its use within NHS Scotland. It is for people with advanced prostate cancer that has continued to grow despite hormone therapy and have a change (mutation) in the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 genes. These gene changes increase the risk of certain types of cancer, including prostate cancer.

Scientists are also looking into changing a virus so that it can kill cancer cells without affecting normal cells.

Hormone therapies

Most men with advanced prostate cancer will have hormone treatment. Scientists are looking at new hormone therapies that reduce the amount of testosterone men produce including orteronel (TAK700) and oestrogen patches.

They are also looking into the timing of hormone treatment including whether having intermittent treatment improves your quality of life and whether it works as well as continuous treatment. As well as comparing hormone therapies with other treatments 


Research has shown that having chemotherapy with hormone treatment for advanced prostate cancer can help men to live longer. Researchers are looking into:

  • combining it with other treatments
  • new drugs such as cabazitaxel (Jevtana)
  • high dose chemotherapy with stem cell rescue  
  • whether certain chemotherapy drugs are better for some people with genetic changes 


Radiotherapy can help control cancer that has spread to the bones and help control pain.

Injections of radium a radioactive substance can help to control pain. Early research has shown it might help people to live a few months longer than with other types of radioactive injections. Researchers are looking into what dose people need and how well it works.

Other treatments

Researchers are looking at different steroids to help men with advanced prostate cancer. You might have these with other treatments including hormone treatment.

Last reviewed: 
05 Aug 2019
  • Cancer: Principles and practice of oncology (10th edition)
    DeVita and others
    Lipincott, Williams and Wilkins, 2015

  • Prevention and early detection of prostate cancer.
    Cuzick and others.
    The Lancet Oncology. Vol 15, 2014

  • Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials database
    Accessed August 2019

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