Tony Maxwell, prostate cancer participant

My current clinical trial is a lifesaver for me.

I was diagnosed with Gleason 8 prostate cancer at age 57 in 2003. A radical prostatectomy failed to lower my PSA of 6 even though all scans were clean.

Then followed 12 years of continuous Lucrin hormone treatment. My PSA dropped to near zero but then rose again to reach 70 in June 2014. At this time scans finally revealed a tumour in my right pelvic lymph node. At the same time I qualified for a clinical trial involving two new drugs, Enzalutamide and Abiraterone. This was a safety trial involving drug combinations where all participants received Enzalutamide in Stage 1 and when that starts to fail participants will be randomised to two arms in Stage 2 – one arm consists of Abiraterone and the other a mix of the two drugs.

I have now been on Enzalutamide for 15 months and my PSA has dropped from 70 to 5 in that time – it is currently dropping about 0.5 units per month. The trial is for pre chemotherapy men like myself. Original trials of Enzalutamide on post chemo men gave a survival benefit of about 4 months so I am already way better than that.

When the trial finishes after using both drugs I should be in a much better position to attack the residual tumour with radiation than when my PSA was 70. I am very pleased with these positive results and even better the cost is nil to me – I could simply not afford these drugs pre chemotherapy otherwise. I hope also the trial results can help other men down the track.

The time this trial is buying me is being put to good use. I am very active in support programs for men with advanced prostate cancer and as a consumer representative on many cancer research projects and committees. Family time with young grandchildren is also hugely important even if the benefits are difficult to directly measure. The clinical trial is a win win win result on all fronts.