- Patients could see treatment sessions cut from 20 to five, with high success rate
Higher doses of radiotherapy can slash prostate cancer treatment time by as much as 75 per cent, a ‘game-changing’ study has found.
Suitable patients could see the number of treatment sessions they need cut from 20 to five, with a 96 per cent chance the disease will not progress within five years.
Sessions would be delivered over just one or two weeks, rather than four to eight weeks for the lower doses, which have a 95 per cent success rate.
Researchers at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and The Institute of Cancer Research expect their findings to transform the way radiotherapy is delivered.
It means men with intermediate risk, localised prostate cancer should be offered stereotactic body radiotherapy treatment (SBRT), allowing them to spend less time in hospital.
Suitable patients for radiotherapy will only need five sessions of treatment instead of 20, with a 96% chance that the disease will not progress within five years
Chief investigator Professor Nicholas van As, medical director at The Royal Marsden and professor in precision prostate radiotherapy at The ICR, said standard treatment is ‘already highly effective’, but added: ‘To be able to sit with a patient and say, ‘We can treat you with a low toxicity treatment in five days, and your chance of keeping the cancer at bay for five years is 96 per cent’, is a very positive conversation to have.
‘We expect our trial to be practice changing and people with intermediate risk prostate cancer should be given the option of SBRT as an alternative to conventional radiation or prostate surgery.’
The trial found SBRT performed as well as standard radiotherapy for patients whose cancer had not spread. It allows clinicians to target tumours to sub-millimetre precision, minimising damage to healthy tissue.
Researchers enrolled 874 people in the UK, Ireland and Canada who preferred radiation treatment or were unsuitable for surgery.
The average age was 69.8 years old. Patients were randomly assigned to receive either SBRT, consisting of five doses over one to two weeks, or standard radiation consisting of 20 doses over four weeks or 39 doses over 7.5 weeks.
One of the 874 participants in the trial said he could not believe how fast his treatment was completed and described it as ‘incredibly easy’
Side effects were low in both groups and at five years not significantly different between treatment arms.
Professor Emma Hall at The ICR said: ‘This is a game-changer for patients. It’s another example of how the rapidly advancing field of radiotherapy can improve patients’ lives.’
Findings from the Prostate Advances in Comparative Evidence study will be presented at The American Society for Radiation Oncology annual meeting on Monday.
One of those who took part in the trial said he found it ‘unbelievable’ that his treatment was completed in just five days.
Alistair Kennedy-Rose, 64, from the West Midlands, added: ‘For something as serious as a cancer diagnosis it was incredibly easy. I haven’t had any side effects and I’ve been able to live my life to the full. I can’t thank The Royal Marsden enough for what they have done for me.’