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Cancer trial shows treating the prostate with radiotherapy improves survival

New research supported by the NIHR has shown that for some men with prostate cancer which has already spread to other parts of the body before diagnosis, their survival outlook can be improved by treating the prostate with radiotherapy in addition to current standard treatment.

Previously, it was unclear if there was any benefit in treating the prostate directly with radiotherapy if the cancer had already spread away from the gland. 

The STAMPEDE trial aimed to provide evidence of the best way of treating men with newly diagnosed advanced prostate cancer. This innovative trial is testing several treatment  strategies, some of which have already been reported on.  

Since opening in 2005 the trial has recruited over 10,000 participants, with the NIHR Clinical Research Network supporting the recruitment of 9,010 participants from 125 sites in the UK. 

The latest findings to be reported relate to the use of radiotherapy and involved 2,000 men, thus making it one of largest ever clinical trials for prostate cancer.

The aim of this part of the trial was to test whether radiotherapy to the prostate would improve overall survival in men with prostate cancer, and that the benefit would be greatest in patients with a low spread of disease. It aimed to compare standard of care for prostate cancer, with and without radiotherapy. 

Results have shown that radiotherapy did not help those whose cancers had spread more widely, but it did make a difference for those whose cancers had spread locally into the nearby lymph nodes or bones. Of those men, 81 per cent survived for three years, compared with 73 percent who did not get radiotherapy.

Furthermore, the trial found that men with advanced prostate cancer who were treated with radiotherapy on top of standard treatment were 11 per cent more likely to survive to three years than men who received hormone therapy (standard treatment).

The results of the trial were announced at the European Society for Medical Oncology Conference in Munich and published online by the Lancet medical journal this week.

The trial is funded by Cancer Research UK and the Medical Research Council in the UK. It was supported by the NIHR Royal Marsden Biomedical Research Centre and the NIHR Clinical Research Network.

The trial is due to close in December 2020 and assessment of a number of other treatment strategies are planned.   

Read the coverage on the Guardian website: 
Prostate cancer: radiotherapy could extend thousands of lives, study finds.

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