A trial looking at intermittent versus continuous hormone therapy for prostate cancer that has continued to grow but has not spread (Intercontinental)

Cancer type:

Prostate cancer




Phase 3

This trial compared intermittent hormone therapy with continuous hormone therapy for prostate cancer that had continued to grow after radiotherapy. This trial was supported by Cancer Research UK.

Prostate cancer is often treated with hormone therapy. But at some point, prostate cancer usually becomes resistant Open a glossary item to hormone therapy and the cancer continues to grow. This can happen after months or even years of treatment.

Doctors thought that if you had hormone therapy on and off (intermittently) rather than all the time (continuously), it may work just as well and may also reduce side effects.

The main aims of this trial were to compare intermittent and continuous hormone therapy to see the difference between how long the men lived and how it affected their quality of life.

Summary of results

The trial team found that the amount of time that men lived was not reduced when they had intermittent therapy. And that for many of the men side effects were reduced and could lead to an improved quality of life. The men were followed for an average of around seven years

This was an international trial and recruited 1,386 men from different countries around the world.

All the men had radiotherapy to treat their prostate cancer. When there were signs that the cancer may have started to grow again, they were put into 1 of 2 groups, those who had

  • Intermittent hormone therapy
  • Continuous hormone therapy

Overall, the men having intermittent hormone therapy reported a slightly better quality of life Open a glossary item than the men who had continuous hormone therapy.

The team found no difference in the amount of time men lived when they compared the 2 groups.

The trial team recommend that men whose prostate cancer show signs of coming back after radiotherapy should have intermittent hormone therapy as described in the Intercontinental trial protocol instead of continuous hormone therapy.

We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) and published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Prof David Dearnaley

Supported by

Cancer Research UK
Institute of Cancer Research (ICR)
National Institute for Health Research Cancer Research Network (NCRN)

Other information

This is Cancer Research UK trial number CRUK/02/020.

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 207

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Keith took part in a trial looking into hormone therapy

A picture of Keith

"Health wise I am feeling great. I am a big supporter of trials - it allows new treatments and drugs to be brought in.”

Last reviewed:

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