New targeted therapy ‘could transform’ prostate cancer treatment

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Prostate cancer patients are to have new targeted therapy as part of a trial which could “transform” treatment of the disease.

Patients currently receive only hormone therapy to slow the growth of cancer elsewhere in the body, alongside chemotherapy – but no treatment to remove the primary tumour.

But doctors are testing the use of highly focused ultrasound, surgery or radiotherapy combined with the standard treatment.

Each year, 47,000 men in the UK are diagnosed with prostate cancer and in 30% of cases it has already spread to other parts of the body by the time treatment is started.

The nationwide trial led by Professor Hashim Ahmed at Imperial College London involving 918 patients including some at University Hospital Southampton (UHS).

Tim Dudderidge, a consultant urological surgeon at UHS, said: “New research suggests the primary prostate tumour sends growth signals to the cancer that has spread to other areas of the body, so we need to explore the impact of this further.

“The hope is that, by removing the main tumour, we could slow down cancer growth in other parts of the body as these areas will no longer receive these signals – thus improving survival.

“This is potentially game-changing as, if it shows a clear benefit of treating the primary tumour in patients with advanced prostate cancer, it will turn decades of knowledge on its head, transform treatment options and save more lives.”

A UHS spokesman said: “Currently, patients receive only hormone therapy to slow the growth of cancer in the body alongside chemotherapy – but no treatment to remove the primary tumour in the prostate.

“However, recent research suggests the original site of the cancer may send ‘growth signals’ to areas of the body where it has spread which, if halted, could improve survival rates for those affected.”

Explaining the medical trial, the spokesman added: “One group will receive focal therapy, which uses highly focused ultrasound energy or targeted freezing techniques to destroy the prostate tumour without damaging adjacent tissue.

“Another group will undergo either a prostatectomy, which involves using latest keyhole and robotic-assisted surgery to remove the whole prostate gland and surrounding affected tissue, or receive radiotherapy at a curative high dose.

“All patients will also be offered highly focused radiotherapy – stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR) – treatment directed at areas in which the cancer has spread, known as metastatic deposits.”

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