Combination treatment halves deaths from locally advanced prostate cancer
A treatment approach that combines radiotherapy with six months of prior hormone therapy could halve the risk of death from locally advanced prostate cancer - disease that has spread to the nearby tissue or organs.
Researchers at the University of Newcastle in Australia and Calvary Mater Newcastle carried out a clinical trial involving 802 men with locally advanced prostate cancer.
Participants were assigned to one of three treatment groups - radiotherapy alone; radiotherapy with three months of hormone therapy; or radiotherapy with six months of hormone therapy.
The risk of death ten years after treatment among men who had received radiotherapy with six months of hormone therapy was reduced to 11 per cent, compared with 22 per cent for those who had radiotherapy alone.
But, radiotherapy with just three months of hormone therapy did not prevent the cancer from spreading to other parts of the body, and was associated with similar numbers of deaths as radiotherapy alone.
The findings build on previously published results from the same study and are published in the Lancet Oncology. They indicate that the combination therapy may significantly improve the chances of survival in men with locally advanced prostate cancer.
Lead researcher Professor Jim Denham explained that these updated results are important - although doctors already knew about the benefit of giving patients hormone treatment before radiotherapy, they did not know the best duration of treatment to effectively control disease but cause minimal side-effects.
He explained: "Prolonged hormone therapy carries many side-effects, including erectile dysfunction, hot flashes, fatigue, osteoporosis, high cholesterol and anaemia. Associated cardiac problems have also been fatal for some patients.
"With this research, we now know that six months of hormone therapy with radiotherapy will provide a very effective treatment for locally advanced prostate cancer over the next decade."
Oliver Childs, senior science information Officer at Cancer Research UK, said: "Trials like this are important, as they help doctors maintain the tricky balance between effectively treating cancer and avoiding side-effects. This work confirms that six months hormone treatment with radiotherapy strikes the right balance for men with prostate cancer."
Denham, J., Steigler, A., Lamb, D., Joseph, D., Turner, S., Matthews, J., Atkinson, C., North, J., Christie, D., Spry, N., Tai, K., Wynne, C., & D'Este, C. (2011). Short-term neoadjuvant androgen deprivation and radiotherapy for locally advanced prostate cancer: 10-year data from the TROG 96.01 randomised trial The Lancet Oncology DOI: 10.1016/S1470-2045(11)70063-8
Notes to Editor