Tuesday 13 December 2011
Less overall radiotherapy, delivered in fewer but higher doses, is as safe as standard, lower doses for treating prostate cancer, according to new research* published in the Lancet Oncology today.
Data from the Cancer Research UK funded CHHiP trial - supported by the National Institute for Health Research and led by The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust - have been analysed by the ICR’s Clinical Trials and Statistics Unit.
A total of 457 men with prostate cancer were recruited to examine the safety and side-effects of higher individual doses of radiotherapy on the bowel, bladder and sexual function. All high dose results were found to be similar to standard radiotherapy.
The men either received standard radiotherapy of 74 Gy** over 37 days (2 Gy a day), 60 Gy delivered over 20 days (3 Gy a day) or 57 Gy delivered in 19 days (3 Gy per day). The next stage of the trial - which has recruited 3216 men in total - will compare outcomes in the different patient groups.
Professor David Dearnaley, lead investigator from the ICR and The Royal Marsden, said: “Earlier research suggests that prostate cancer cells may be more sensitive to higher individual doses of radiotherapy than other types of cancers. This could mean giving patients larger doses of radiotherapy per hospital visit, with fewer hospital trips and less radiotherapy needed overall. Our aim is to discover if this is the case and learn more about effective radiotherapy options for men with prostate cancer. This safety data is very pleasing and we are looking forward to the results of the next phase of the trial to see if this method ultimately offers patients better tumour control or fewer side-effects.”
Dr Emma Hall from the ICR’s Clinical Trials and Statistics Unit said: “The finding that this treatment schedule is as safe as standard treatment has allowed us to expand the trial to include men from all over the UK. This is now the largest ever academic trial in prostate cancer with 3,216 men involved.”
Around 37,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year in the UK. More than 10,000 men die from the disease annually. In the UK, radiotherapy is the most commonly used treatment to cure localised prostate cancer.
Kate Law, Cancer Research UK’s clinical trials director, said: “Radiotherapy remains a mainstay of treatment for prostate and many other types of cancer. These results highlight important ongoing research which is looking to further refine radiotherapy, and to help ensure that men with prostate cancer are getting the best treatment possible.
“All men and their families would appreciate fewer trips to the hospital to receive treatment so we look forward to seeing the full results of this research. 2011 is the Year of Radiotherapy and it’s 100 years since Marie Curie won her second Nobel Prize for her work in this area. Radiotherapy is, quite wrongly, often regarded as old-fashioned by the public. But there may be greater benefits for patients in the future as we continue to learn more about its effectiveness.”
For media enquiries contact the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 3469 8300 or, out or hours, on 07050 264 059.
Notes to editor:
* Preliminary safety results from the conventional versus hypofractionated high dose intensity modulated radiotherapy in prostate cancer (CHHiP) randomised trial. Dearnaley, D. et al. Lancet Oncology.
** Gy refers to Gray, the unit by which radiotherapy is measured and delivered to cancer patients.
About Cancer Research UK
- Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research
- The charity’s groundbreaking work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives. This work is funded entirely by the public.
- Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of the progress that has already seen survival rates double in the last forty years.
- Cancer Research UK supports research into all aspects of cancer through the work of over 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses.
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For further information about Cancer Research UK's work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 020 7121 6699 or visit www.cancerresearchuk.org.
About the NIHR
The National Institute for Health Research provides the framework through which the research staff and research infrastructure of the NHS in England is positioned, maintained and managed as a national research facility. The NIHR provides the NHS with the support and infrastructure it needs to conduct first-class research funded by the Government and its partners alongside high-quality patient care, education and training. Its aim is to support outstanding individuals (both leaders and collaborators), working in world class facilities (both NHS and university), conducting leading edge research focused on the needs of patients. www.nihr.ac.uk
The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR)
- The ICR is Europe’s leading cancer research centre
- The ICR has been ranked the UK’s top academic research centre, based on the results of the Higher Education Funding Council’s Research Assessment Exercise
- The ICR works closely with partner The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust to ensure patients immediately benefit from new research. Together the two organisations form the largest comprehensive cancer centre in Europe
- The ICR has charitable status and relies on voluntary income
- As a college of the University of London, the ICR also provides postgraduate higher education of international distinction
- Over its 100-year history, the ICR’s achievements include identifying the potential link between smoking and lung cancer which was subsequently confirmed, discovering that DNA damage is the basic cause of cancer and isolating more cancer-related genes than any other organisation in the world
- The Institute of Cancer Research’s Clinical Trials and Statistics Unit (ICR- CTSU) is an academic clinical trials unit accredited by the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) to conduct clinical trials into cancer treatments. The department is funded by an infrastructure grant from Cancer Research UK.
For more information, visit www.icr.ac.uk
The Royal Marsden
The Royal Marsden opened its doors in 1851 as the world’s first hospital dedicated to cancer diagnosis, treatment, research and education.
Today, together with its academic partner, The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), it is the largest and most comprehensive cancer centre in Europe treating over 44,000 patients every year. It is a centre of excellence with an international reputation for groundbreaking research and pioneering the very latest in cancer treatments and technologies. The Royal Marsden also provides community services in the London boroughs of Sutton and Merton and in June 2010, along with the ICR, the Trust launched a new academic partnership with Mount Vernon Cancer Centre in Middlesex.
Since 2004, the hospital’s charity, The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, has helped raise over £50 million to build theatres, diagnostic centres, and drug development units. Prince William became President of The Royal Marsden in 2007, following a long royal connection with the hospital.
For more information please visit www.royalmarsden.nhs.uk