Men with prostate cancer could be cured in ONE WEEK: Patients could be treated with just two sessions of radiotherapy

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  • Prostate cancer is usually treated with about 20 radiation doses a month.
  • But the researchers found that the radiation can be given safely in 5 large doses.
  • Doctors are set to treat the first patient this week as part of a trial looking at whether it is safe to give radiotherapy in two large doses.

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Prostate cancer patients can be cured in just a week instead of a month with targeted high-dose radiotherapy sessions.

Doctors at London’s Royal Marsden Hospital are set to treat the first patient this week as part of a trial looking at whether it is safe to give radiotherapy in two large doses instead of one very small dose.


Earlier this month researchers from the hospital’s NHS Foundation Trust and The Institute of Cancer Research found that the typical dose of radiation used to treat prostate cancer – given in small doses over about 20 sessions a month – is only five large doses. can be given safely. Just a week or two.

Dr Alison Tree, trial leader and consultant clinical oncologist at Royal Marsden and the Cancer Research Institute (ICR) in London, explained many times That working-age men can ‘come on, be cured, go on with their normal lives and forget their cancer altogether’.

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There are around 50,000 diagnoses of prostate cancer each year, making it the most common form of cancer in British men.

Reducing the number of sessions needed for cancer treatment from 20 to just two would save the NHS millions of pounds and enable radiotherapy units to treat more patients.

Dr Tree said: ‘When I started training 15 years ago we were doing very basic radiotherapy, where you treat large, square areas of the body.

Doctors at London’s Royal Marsden Hospital are set to treat the first patient as part of a trial this week looking at whether it is safe to give radiotherapy in two large doses rather than in very small doses (stock image)

‘Of course, cancer is never square – and that means you will’ [irradiate] Too many healthy tissue by mistake, because that was the best we could do.

‘We are so much more precise that we no longer affect healthy tissue as much.’

She had previously said that the new technology had shown ‘very promising results’ with few side effects, adding: ‘Our aim was to understand whether we could safely increase the dose of targeted radiation per day, giving us the necessary Allows for reducing the number of treatments.

One option for patients is surgery to remove the prostate, but this leaves many men with erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence.

Another treatment is radiotherapy, which involves destroying the prostate with X-ray beams that can destroy tumor cells – but there are trade-offs.

Radiation can affect the bowel and rectum, which sit next to the prostate, by damaging the nerves and muscles that control when men go to the toilet. This can cause bowel incontinence.

To reduce the severity of side effects, NHS guidance recommends that radiotherapy be spread over at least 20 doses, while many doctors choose to expand this to even 32 smaller doses.

But if the new technique, called stereotactic body radiotherapy, is adopted, it could soon be reduced to just five visits in just seven days. This allows clinicians to target tumors with ‘sub-millimetre’ accuracy.

Because it is so precise, very high doses of radiation can be administered without worry that they will also damage surrounding organs.

Results from a two-year global study to research stereotactic body radiotherapy found that 99 percent of patients who underwent high-intensity treatment were free of serious side effects, while 90 percent experienced only minor symptoms, such as urination. problem while doing

Funded by the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, approximately 900 patients were recruited for the trial.

Half were treated with the new technology while the others received standard radiotherapy.

Importantly, the new treatment was shown to be equally effective at destroying cancer cells and reducing the risk of the disease returning — nine out of ten patients in both arms of the trial who had cancer as intermediate risk or low. was classified, they did not require further treatment.

Dr Tree said: ‘I think there is a good argument for adopting it in the NHS.’

What is prostate cancer?

How many people does it kill?

More than 11,800 men in the UK die every year – or one every 45 minutes – from the disease, while there are around 11,400 women who die from breast cancer.

This means that prostate cancer is behind only the lungs and bowel in terms of how many people it kills in the UK.

In the US, the disease kills 26,000 men every year.

Despite this, it receives less than half the funding for breast cancer research and treatments for the disease are at least a decade behind.

How quickly does it develop?

Prostate cancer usually develops slowly, so one may have no signs for many years, according to NHS.

If the cancer is in an early stage and is not causing symptoms, a policy of ‘watchful waiting’ or ‘active surveillance’ may be adopted.

Some patients can be cured if the disease is treated at an early stage.

But if it is diagnosed at a later stage, when it has spread, it becomes terminal and treatment revolves around relieving symptoms.

Known side effects from treatment, including erectile dysfunction, keep thousands of men from seeking a diagnosis.

testing and treatment

Trials for prostate cancer are randomized, with precise tools only beginning to emerge.

There is no national prostate screening program because over the years the tests have been horribly wrong.

Doctors struggle to differentiate between invasive and less serious tumors, which makes it difficult to decide on treatment.

Men over the age of 50 are eligible for a ‘PSA’ blood test, which gives doctors an idea of ​​whether a patient is at risk.

But it is unbelievable. Patients with a positive result are usually given a biopsy, which is not foolproof.

Scientists are uncertain about what causes prostate cancer, but age, obesity and…


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