The Central Coast has come in at number five on a list of 20 regional and suburban “hot spots” across Australia where prostate cancer is diagnosed late, and men are detected with advanced disease at rates significantly higher than the national average.
But a new government medicine subsidy will allow thousands of Australian men battling an advanced form of prostate cancer to launch a three-pronged attack against their disease.
Medical experts are welcoming Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) access to the first and only medicine specifically registered by the Therapeutic Goods Administration for use in triple therapy to fight cancer in a number of different and complementary ways as soon as it has escaped the prostate.
From December 1, men with metastatic hormone-sensitive prostate cancer (cancer that has spread beyond the prostate to organs such as the lymph nodes, bone, lung and liver) will receive subsidised access to NUBEQA (darolutamide) for the first time.
It will form part of a three-pronged treatment, used alongside chemotherapy and hormone therapy (androgen deprivation therapy or ADT).
Genesis Care Medical Oncologist Dr Laurence Krieger said NUBEQA worked to starve cancer cells of the hormones they needed to grow and divide, while androgen deprivation therapy blocks production of the cancer-stimulating hormones and chemotherapy worked to destroy cancer cells.
“Sadly, prostate cancer remains the second greatest cancer killer of Australian men,” he said.
“New treatment options are desperately needed.”
Through the PBS, eligible men will pay just $7.30 (on concession) or $30 (general patients) each month for NUBEQA.
Without the PBS subsidy, the tablets could cost more than $42,000 each year in addition to the cost of other anti-cancer medicines.
The major funding announcement came just as Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA) released its snapshot of advanced prostate cancer diagnosis across Australia.
“Every year nearly 4,000 Australian men will be diagnosed with incurable Stage 3 or 4 prostate cancers,” PCFA CEO Anne Savage said.
“The listing of medicines such as NUBEQA for more men is an important development for thousands of Australian fathers and sons.
“However, we need to continue raising awareness so that all Australian men get a fair chance of detecting prostate cancer early, so that we can beat it.”
Bayer Australia and New Zealand Group CEO and Country Division Head for Pharmaceuticals, Ashraf Al-Ouf, said that timely access to additional treatment options could be a key moment for someone living with prostate cancer – potentially impacting their ability to live well alongside family and friends.
“Bayer is proud to deliver NUBEQA as an additional treatment option for men with this form of advanced prostate cancer, as well as stand behind PCFA in its efforts to raise awareness of the disease and address barriers to early diagnosis,” he said.