New Prostate Cancer Medication Added to the PBS

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Did you know that it is estimated that more than 200,000 Australian men are currently living with prostate cancer?

In addition, almost 17,000 men are diagnosed with the condition and approximately 3,200 lose their lives each year to the disease.

However, there was good news recently for men with prostate cancer that no longer responds to traditional testosterone-lowering therapy.

For the first time in seven years, a prostate cancer therapy called Nubeqa will be added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).  Eligible men will pay just $6.60 (concession) or $41.30 (general patients) each month for Nubeqa.

Without a subsidy, the medicine would cost up to $44,000 per year. According to Associate Professor David Pook, a medical oncologist at Melbourne’s Cabrini Hospital, access to Nubeqa on the PBS will come as great news to men no longer responding to hormone therapy.

“This medicine offers an earlier line of treatment, allowing doctors to treat prostate cancer that no longer responds to traditional testosterone-lowering treatment and is likely to spread,” Dr Pook said.

“We no longer need to wait until we can see cancer spots on CT scan and bone scans before we initiate treatment. We now have the option to act earlier with the goal of delaying the spread of prostate cancer,” he said.

The announcement comes as medical experts and advocates express concern about the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns on prostate cancer screening and diagnosis, blood tests (also known as PSA tests) and scans to gauge cancer activity in those already diagnosed.

“Protecting against COVID-19 must not be at the expense of timely diagnosis or appropriate monitoring of cancer activity,” Dr Pook said.

While 95 per cent of all men with prostate cancer will live at least five years after their diagnosis, Dr Pook explained that once it is detected in lymph nodes, bones or other parts of the body (stage 4), and is not responding to testosterone suppression alone, the chance of a man being alive in five years’ time is only 36 per cent.

“More treatment options in the earlier stages of prostate cancer highlights the importance of prostate cancer testing to support early diagnosis as well as routine PSA testing during the earlier stages of the disease to identify early cancer progression,” Dr Pook added.

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