How prostate cancer could be cured in just five days with radiotherapy
Traditionally, radiotherapy is given over 39 days – requiring men to go to hospital every weekday for nearly two months.
But doctors have conducted a trial that delivers far more powerful beams of precisely targeted radiation in only five sessions.
The early results of the study, published in the Lancet medical journal, found that it was ‘promising’ in curing prostate cancer and that the side effects were no worse than with the current treatment.
Experts at The Royal Marsden Hospital and The Institute of Cancer Research in London carried out the trial involving 847 men with prostate cancer.
Around half of the men were given the current standard radiotherapy of 39 treatments over eight weeks or 20 doses over four weeks. The others received five doses of the higher-strength radiation – called SBRT – over one or two weeks.
Scientists will now monitor the men for five years to see whether the five-day course is as effective at defeating prostate cancer as the longer treatment.
Study author, Dr. Douglas Brand, from The Institute of Cancer Research, said: “The new results from our clinical trial have shown that a much shorter course of higher-dose radiotherapy does not increase short-term side effects compared with the current standard of care. If the data on longer-term side effects and efficacy are also positive, we expect our trial could be practice-changing.
“This would enable us to deliver curative treatment over fewer days, meaning that men would get the same benefit from their radiotherapy while having to spend less time in hospital.”
The treatment is a highly effective way to tackle the disease, particularly if it is given at an early stage, when it permanently eradicates 60 per cent of tumours. But it can involve long-term side effects, including impotence, bowel problems and even bladder cancer.
The findings were published in the journal The Lancet Oncology.