Radiotherapy treatment for prostate cancer could extend lives of thousands of men

Radiotherapy can provide extended survival time for thousands of men with prostate cancer, a major trial has shown.A study in London demonstrates for the first time that adding the treatment to standard hormone therapy in men with a locally-advanced form of the disease significantly holds back their cancer.Up untill now doctors have thought it pointless targeting the main tumour itself once the disease has begun to spread to nearby lymph nodes and bones.But the new approach, reported in The Lancet, significantly increased the proportion of patients who were alive after three years, despite the local spread.While 70 per cent of those given hormone therapy alone survived for three years, around 80 per cent of those in the study who received hormone therapy and radiotherapy were alive after the same period.Prostate cancer is the most common cancer affecting UK men, with 47,000 diagnosed every year, of whom around 11,500 die.Scientists at University College London and The Royal Marsden Hospital, where the trial of 2,000 patients took place, say the results mean more than 3,000 men in England could benefit from the combined treatment.Dr Chris Parker, lead researcher of the study based at The Royal Marsden, said: “Our results show a powerful effect for certain men with advanced prostate cancer. “These findings could and should change standard of care worldwide.“Until now, it was thought that there was no point in treating the prostate itself if the cancer had already spread because it would be like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.“However, this study proves the benefit of prostate radiotherapy for these men.“Unlike many new drugs for cancer, radiotherapy is a simple, relatively cheap treatment that is readily available in most parts of the world.”The research team stressed that the benefit was restricted to men with locally-advanced prostate cancer and was not seen in patients whose cancer had spread to other organs or distant bonesProfessor Charles Swanton, Cancer Research UK’s chief clinician, said: “This is a monumental finding that could help thousands of men worldwide.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.

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