A 10-year study has discovered a new treatment approach that doubles the survival chances of men with locally advanced prostate cancer.
Published in the latest edition of The Lancet Oncology, the University of Newcastle and Calvary Mater Newcastle research showed that combining radiotherapy with six months of hormone therapy significantly reduced the death rate of prostate cancer patients.
The trial included 802 men from Australia and New Zealand with locally advanced prostate cancer (cancer that has not spread to other parts of the body). Participants were randomly assigned to three treatment groups: radiotherapy alone, radiotherapy with three months of hormone therapy and radiotherapy with six months of hormone therapy.
The rate of prostate cancer death for men receiving radiotherapy with six months’ hormone therapy was reduced to 11 per cent, compared to 22 per cent for men receiving radiotherapy alone.
Lead researcher Professor Jim Denham said hormone therapy was used to lower the levels of male hormones that can promote the growth of prostate cancer.
“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.
“The challenge has been to determine the right length of hormone therapy that treats the cancer but produces minimal side effects. 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.”
Another key finding by the Trans-Tasman Radiation Oncology Group (TROG) 96.01 trial was that six months of hormone therapy with radiation for locally advanced prostate cancers reduces the total death rate of all men by one third. The results also showed that a treatment of radiotherapy with three months of hormone therapy did not prevent the cancer from spreading and had similar death rates to radiotherapy alone.
“These findings provide a clear direction on the best approach of the treatment options currently available. The information will be invaluable for clinicians as they advise their patients and to people contemplating treatment options,” Professor Denham said.
* Professor Denham is a radiation oncologist at the Calvary Mater Newcastle and a conjoint professor with the University of Newcastle. He is Director of the Prostate Cancer Trials Group, in collaboration with the Hunter Medical Research Institute's Cancer Research Program. HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.
For interviews with Professor Denham contact Carmen Swadling, University of Newcastle Media and Public Relations, 02 4985 4276 or 0428 038 477.