Radiotherapy cuts deaths from high risk prostate cancer
Monday 8 November 2010
National Cancer Research Institute Press Release
Men treated with radiotherapy as well as
for advanced prostate cancer were 43
per cent less likely to die from the disease, according to trial results presented at the NCRI Cancer Conference in Liverpool today (Monday).
The Medical Research Council and National Cancer Institute of Canada- funded trial studied 1,200
men with locally advanced prostate cancer. All received standard hormone therapy and half were given
radiotherapy to see if adding radiotherapy increased the number of men who survived the disease.
Preliminary results from the trial show that 79 per cent of men who had hormone therapy alone were still alive
after seven years, compared with 90 per cent of men who received radiotherapy with hormone therapy.
Hormone therapy has long been a standard treatment for prostate cancer. Prostate cancer relies on the hormone
testosterone to grow, so by controlling testosterone it is possible to slow down or shrink the tumour. While this
treatment can work well for several years, for some men the cancer stops responding and starts growing again.
Professor Malcolm Mason, trial leader based at Cardiff University and Velindre Hospital and medical advisor to
Cancer Research Wales, said: “These exciting results clearly show how radiotherapy increases survival for men with
this type of prostate cancer. Currently, we estimate that around 40 per cent of men like those in the trial are
given radiotherapy in the UK, and we hope that thanks to these results more men will now be offered this important
Half of the men who chose to join the trial were given radiotherapy five days a week for between six and seven
weeks as outpatients. The side effects were generally mild –some had discomfort or increased frequency of urination
Professor Mason added: “Compared to the advanced radiotherapy techniques used today, those used earlier in the
trial were less intensive, so it’s possible that the benefits with today’s radiotherapy may be even greater.”
Kate Law, director of clinical research at Cancer Research UK, said: “This trial offers fresh hope to thousands of
men with prostate cancer, preventing hundreds of deaths every year. Radiotherapy is sometimes an overlooked form of
treatment but this trial shows how vital it can be.”
Professor Max Parmar, Director of the MRC Clinical Trials Unit, says: “The interim results of this trial are
extremely encouraging. The side-effects of radiotherapy are minimal and we are delighted that, through the combined
efforts of patients, clinicians and researchers across the world, we are providing robust evidence to demonstrate
that radiotherapy can benefit men with high risk prostate cancer.”
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