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Researchers make breakthrough in prostate cancer treatment


New forms of treatment could save the lives of thousands of men

Researchers have now found that radiation therapy can increase the likelihood of survival for thousands of men with prostate cancer, even if the cancer has already spread at diagnosis.

In their latest research, University College London scientists found that radiation therapy could increase the likelihood of survival in men with prostate cancer. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "The Lancet".

Prostate cancer has often spread further

Prostate cancer affects many men worldwide. In a significant number of these patients, cancer is only diagnosed when the disease has already spread. This significantly reduces the survival probability of those affected. The standard treatment for advanced or metastatic prostate cancer is hormone therapy with medication. Until now, it was thought that there was no point in treating the prostate yourself if the cancer had already spread, the researchers say.

About 2,000 subjects took part in the study

In the current investigation, the experts looked at what would happen if patients with prostate cancer received both radiation therapy and medication. To do this, they examined around 2,000 men with advanced cancer. Half received standard treatment and the other half received standard treatment plus radiation therapy for the prostate.

Survival rate improved to 81 percent

Not every patient has benefited from this combined form of treatment. Radiotherapy did not help the patients whose cancer had already spread widely, but the treatment made a difference to the people whose cancer had spread locally to the nearby lymph nodes or bones. Of these men, 81 percent survived for three years, compared to 73 percent of those who did not receive radiation therapy. Radiation therapy offers a sensible, inexpensive supplement to normal treatment. The results were presented at the conference of the European Society for Medical Oncology in Munich.

More research is needed

The findings of the new study could and should change the standard of care worldwide, the authors say. Unlike many new cancer drugs, radiation therapy is a simple, relatively inexpensive treatment that is readily available in most parts of the world, the experts explain. The results are a monumental finding that could help thousands of men worldwide. The combination of the current treatment with radiation therapy shows clear benefits for a subset of men with prostate cancer. Now it has to be examined whether this also applies to other cancer patients. If we understand exactly why these men benefit from the additional radiation therapy, the approach could be used to help even more patients, the researchers concluded. (as)

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