Men with prostate cancer can be cured in ONE WEEK: patients can be treated with just two sessions of radiotherapy
- Typically, prostate cancer is treated with about 20 radiation doses per month
- But researchers found that the radiation can be safely given in 5 large doses
- Doctors will treat the first patient this week as part of a trial to investigate whether it is safe to give radiotherapy in two large doses
Prostate cancer patients could be cured in just a week instead of a month with targeted high-dose radiotherapy sessions.
Doctors at London’s Royal Marsden Hospital will treat the first patient this week as part of a trial to investigate whether it’s safe to give radiotherapy in two large doses rather than much smaller doses.
Earlier this month, researchers from the hospital’s NHS Foundation Trust and the Institute of Cancer Research found that the typical amount of radiation for prostate cancer treatment — delivered in small doses over about 20 sessions in a month — can be safely given in just five large ones. doses in just one or two weeks.
Research leader and clinical oncologist at the Royal Marsden and the Institute of Cancer Research in London (ICR), Dr. Alison Tree, told The times that men of working age “could come in, be cured, go about their normal lives and forget about their cancer completely.”
There are nearly 50,000 diagnoses of prostate cancer each year, making it the most common cancer among British men.
Reducing the number of sessions needed to treat the cancer from 20 to just two would save the NHS millions of pounds and allow radiotherapy units to treat more patients.
Dr Tree said: ‘When I started training 15 years ago, we were doing very basic radiotherapy, where you would treat large, square areas of the body.
Doctors at London’s Royal Marsden Hospital will treat the first patient this week as part of a trial to investigate whether it is safe to give radiotherapy in two large doses rather than much smaller doses (stock image)
‘Of course cancer is never square – and that meant you would [irradiate] accidentally a lot of healthy tissue because that was the best we could do.
“We’re so much more accurate that we don’t hit much of the healthy tissue now.”
She had previously said the new technique had shown “very promising results” with few side effects, adding: “Our goal was to understand whether we could safely increase the dose of targeted radiation per day, thereby increasing the number of treatments needed.” Reduce.
One option for patients is surgery to remove the prostate, but it leaves many men with erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence.
Another treatment is radiotherapy, which involves irradiating the prostate with X-rays that can destroy tumor cells – but there are trade-offs.
The radiation can affect the gut and rectum, which sit next to the prostate, and damage the nerves and muscles that control when men go to the toilet. This can cause bowel incontinence.
To reduce the severity of side effects, the NHS guideline recommends that radiotherapy be spread over at least 20 doses, while many doctors choose to extend this to 32 even smaller doses.
But this could quickly be reduced to just five trips in just seven days if the new technique, called stereotactic body radiotherapy, is applied. It allows clinicians to target tumors with ‘sub-millimeter’ precision.
Because it is so accurate, much higher doses of radiation can be delivered without the fear of damaging surrounding organs as well.
Results from a two-year global study of stereotactic body radiotherapy showed that 99 percent of patients undergoing the intensive treatment had no serious side effects, while 90 percent experienced only mild symptoms, such as difficulty urinating.
Nearly 900 patients were recruited into the trial, funded by The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.
Half were treated with the new technique, while the others received standard radiotherapy.
Crucially, the new treatment was found to be equally effective at destroying cancer cells and reducing the risk of disease recurrence — nine out of ten patients in both arms of the study whose cancer was classified as medium-risk or lower. , did not require further treatment.
Dr Tree said: ‘I think there is a good argument for applying it across the NHS.’
WHAT IS PROSTATE CANCER?
How many people does it kill?
More than 11,800 men a year – or one every 45 minutes – are killed by the disease in Britain, compared with around 11,400 women who die from breast cancer.
It means prostate cancer is only behind lung and colon cancer in terms of how many people it kills in Britain.
In the US, the disease kills 26,000 men every year.
Despite this, it receives less than half of breast cancer research funding and treatments for the disease are at least a decade behind.
How fast does it develop?
Prostate cancer usually develops slowly, so there may be no signs that a person has had it for years, according to the NHS.
If the cancer is at an early stage and not causing symptoms, a policy of ‘watchful waiting’ or ‘active surveillance’ may be followed.
Some patients can be cured if the disease is treated at an early stage.
But if diagnosed at a later stage, when it has spread, it becomes terminal and treatment revolves around relieving symptoms.
Thousands of men are deterred from being diagnosed because of the treatment’s known side effects, including erectile dysfunction.
Testing and Treatment
Tests for prostate cancer are haphazard, with accurate tools just beginning to show up.
There is no nationwide prostate cancer screening program because the tests have been too inaccurate for years.
Doctors struggle to differentiate between aggressive and less severe tumors, making it difficult to make a decision about treatment.
Men over the age of 50 are eligible for a “PSA” blood test, which gives doctors a rough idea of whether a patient is at risk.
But it is unreliable. Patients who get a positive result usually get a biopsy that is also not foolproof.
Scientists don’t know what causes prostate cancer, but age, obesity and lack of exercise are known risks.
Anyone concerned can contact the specialist nurses at Prostate Cancer UK on 0800 074 8383 or visit prostatecancer.org