Queen's University

New prostate cancer research will have global impact

 
2010-06-07

Combining radiation and hormone therapy in patients with high risk prostate cancer significantly improves the likelihood of patients living longer, according to a new NCIC Clinical Trials Group study conducted at Queen’s.

“This is something that will have a global impact,” says Wendy Parulekar, an associate professor of oncology at Queen’s and a Physician Coordinator at the NCIC CTG. “This is a type of therapy that’s readily available.”

This study, one of the largest ever to test the effectiveness of the method, allows doctors to recommend with certainty what should now be a universal standard of care for men with aggressive, localized prostate cancer. Another benefit of the treatment is that side effects and toxicity from the radiotherapy are minimal.

Although the combination of hormone and radiation therapy is sometimes used in prostate cancer treatments, it is by no means the worldwide standard.

Dr. Parulekar, who is also a medical oncologist at Kingston General Hospital, calls the study “a triumph of collaborative research” between NCIC Clinical Trials Group and the Medical Research Council in the UK, who helped coordinate the study, as well as the patients who agreed to participate and help answer an important research question.

“The results will help establish the standard of care for men with prostate cancer that is considered a high risk for spreading and becoming fatal,” she says.

The randomized controlled trial was conducted between 1995 and 2005 and included 1,205 patients with prostate cancer. Half were treated with hormone therapy, a standard form of treatment, while the other half were treated with a combination of hormone therapy and radiation. The researchers found that the addition of radiation therapy significantly reduced the risk of death.

The interim, unpublished findings were presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO) 46th annual meeting on June 6 in Chicago.

Dr. Padraig Warde from Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto was the study chair. The team plans to publish their findings after peer review.

Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer among Canadian men. The Canadian Cancer Society estimates that in 2010, 24,600 Canadian men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and about 4,300 will die from the disease.
 

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