Breakthrough prostate cancer treatment to be subsidised
Thousands of Australian men battling advanced prostate cancer will have access to a breakthrough drug offering the chance to live longer and with better health.
Diagnosed with incurable prostate cancer late last year, Russell Edwards knew his days were numbered.
But taking a breakthrough drug has meant the retired Canberra accountant isn't counting them down, instead he's planning for his future and hoping to see his primary school-aged grandchildren reach university.
With Nubeqa tablets added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, Mr Edwards, 70, is hoping many other men around the country will be able to live longer and with better health after getting prostate cancer.
Nubeqa, which starves cancer cells of the hormones they need to grow and divide, would cost patients more than $42,000 annually if not on the PBS.
"Without exaggerating, it's been life-changing," Mr Edwards said of his clinical trial of Nubeqa.
"I couldn't have a prostate removed and it had spread to the lymph nodes and my spine so the prognosis was particularly depressing at that stage and enormously confronting … subsequently, my quality of life has improved a lot."
Nubeqa is used in a triple-threat cancer treatment along with chemotherapy and hormone therapy.
When his cancer was diagnosed in its most advanced stage, Mr Edwards was told he might be lucky to live longer than a year.
The powerful treatment means he's already reached that milestone and is enjoying life.
"I was pretty accepting of the diagnosis and prognosis, figured I've had a really good life … but that doesn't mean I was in a hurry to fall off the perch either," he said.
"So I'm pretty happy that now it looks like I have a few more years to watch my grandkids grow up and see how their lives develop … it gives you the opportunity to spend time with the people you care about, the people you love."
Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia CEO Anne Savage said new treatment options shouldn't stop men seeking early detection to get the best chance of beating the disease.
"Every year nearly 4000 Australian men will be diagnosed with incurable stage three or four prostate cancers," she said in a statement.
"We are tremendously grateful to Health Minister Mark Butler for supporting men and families in our communities with this new listing."