How to slash prostate cancer treatment time by as much as 75 percent


Higher doses of radiotherapy can shorten the treatment time for prostate cancer by as much as 75 percent, a ‘groundbreaking’ study has found.

Suitable patients could reduce the number of treatment sessions they need from 20 to five, with a 96 percent chance that the disease will not develop within five years.

Sessions would be delivered in just one or two weeks, instead of four to eight weeks for the lower doses, which have a 95 percent success rate.

Researchers from the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and the Institute of Cancer Research expect their findings to change the way radiotherapy is delivered.

It means that men at average risk of localized prostate cancer should receive stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) treatment, which will help them spend less time in hospital.

Patients suitable for radiotherapy require only five treatment sessions instead of twenty, with a 96% chance that the disease will not develop within five years

Lead researcher Professor Nicholas van As, medical director at The Royal Marsden and professor of precision prostate radiotherapy at The ICR, said the standard treatment is ‘already very effective’, but added: ‘To be able to sit with a patient and say: We can treat you in five days with a low-toxicity treatment, and your chance of keeping the cancer at bay for five years is 96 percent,” is a very positive talk.

‘We expect that our trial will change practice and that people at average risk for prostate cancer should be given the option of SBRT as an alternative to conventional radiation or prostate surgery.’

The study found that SBRT performed as well as standard radiotherapy in patients whose cancer had not spread. It allows doctors to target tumors with millimeter precision, minimizing damage to healthy tissue.

Researchers enrolled 874 people in Britain, Ireland and Canada who preferred radiation or were ineligible for surgery.

The average age was 69.8 years. Patients were randomly assigned to SBRT, consisting of five doses over one to two weeks, or standard radiation therapy consisting of 20 doses over four weeks or 39 doses over 7.5 weeks.

One of the 874 participants in the study said he couldn't believe how quickly his treatment was completed, describing it as 'incredibly easy'.

One of the 874 participants in the study said he couldn’t believe how quickly his treatment was completed, describing it as ‘incredibly easy’.

Side effects were low in both groups and after five years there were no significant differences between the treatment arms.

Professor Emma Hall from the ICR said: ‘This is a game-changer for patients. It is yet another example of how the rapidly evolving field of radiotherapy can improve the lives of patients.’

The findings from the Prostate Advances in Comparative Evidence study will be presented Monday at the annual meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology.

One of the trial participants said he found it ‘incredible’ 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 simple. I have had no side effects and have been able to live my life to the fullest. I can’t thank The Royal Marsden enough for what they did for me.’