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Improved prostate cancer survival chances

28 October 2010

Professor Malcolm MasonProfessor Malcolm Mason

Prostate cancer patients treated with a combination of hormone therapy and radiation have a substantially improved chance of survival compared to those just receiving radiation, according to a Cardiff-led study.

Interim results of the study, the largest randomized study of its kind will be presented at the plenary session of the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) next week.

From 1995 to 2005, 1,205 men with high-risk prostate cancer in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada were randomly selected to receive hormone therapy alone or a combination of hormone therapy and radiation treatment and were followed for at least six years on average. The study was jointly conducted by the National Cancer Institute of Canada, the United Kingdom Medical Research Council and the Southwest Oncology Group in the United States.

Interim results of the study show that the addition of radiation therapy significantly decreased the risk of death among these patients. There were also no increased long-term side effects associated with the treatment.

Professor Malcolm Mason, Head of Oncology and Palliative Medicine at Cardiff School of Medicine and Medical Adviser to Cancer Research Wales, Velindre, said: "If the figures from the interim analysis are similar to the final analysis, we would expect a 43 percent reduction in the chances of death from prostate cancer in men with this regimen.

"This would translate into a reduction in the chances of deaths from prostate cancer in many thousands of men worldwide."

There is much variation in the treatment for men with localized, high-risk prostate cancer and it is a hotly debated topic. While the number of men treated with combined hormone and radiation therapy has increased in recent years, there are still many patients treated with hormone therapy alone.

Professor Mason, also part of the bid for the newly-launched Cardiff Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute, added: "This study is practice changing as it highlights the importance of radiation in the treatment of high-risk prostate cancer patients and clearly demonstrates its benefits," Professor Mason added. "It shows that the standard treatment for these patients should now be hormone therapy plus radiation."

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