Shorter courses of prostate cancer radiotherapy are safe and effective

April 23, 2018, European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology

Radiotherapy given in high doses over a shorter period of time is safe and effective for prostate cancer patients, according to research presented at the ESTRO 37 conference today.

The treatment, called ultrahypofractionated radiotherapy, involves hospital treatment every other day for two and half weeks, compared to every week day for eight weeks for standard radiotherapy.

Researchers say this method of giving radiotherapy saves time for . It also frees up radiotherapy equipment, saving money and benefiting other patients on the waiting list for treatment.

The study was presented by Professor Anders Widmark, a senior consultant based in the department of radiation sciences and centre at Umeå University, Sweden.

He said: "We already know that radiotherapy can destroy cancer cells in the prostate and that it has advantages over surgery and hormone therapy because it is less likely to cause impotence or incontinence. However, radiotherapy requires expensive specialist equipment and patients can end up on a for treatment.

"Ultrahypofractionated radiotherapy offers a number of practical benefits to patients as well as time and cost-savings for hospitals, so we wanted to test if it is as safe and effective as standard radiotherapy."

The researchers conducted a trial with 1,200 patients who were treated at ten hospitals in Sweden and two in Denmark between July 2005 and November 2015. All had been diagnosed with medium or high-risk cancer, where clinical factors suggest there was a risk that the cancer could spread if it was not treated. None had received treatment to block the male hormone testosterone, which can stimulate prostate tumours to grow.

Half of patients received standard radiotherapy of 39 treatments each with a standard radiation dose of two Gray (Gy), spread over eight weeks (78 Gy in total). The other half received ultrahypofractionated radiotherapy with seven treatments of high dose radiation of 6.1 Gy, every other week day for two and half weeks (42.7 Gy in total). Patients were monitored for an average of five years following treatment to see whether their cancer returned, indicated by a rising level of (PSA) and whether they suffered any side-effects.

Researchers found that at five years after treatment 83.8% of patients treated with standard radiotherapy had no signs of their cancer returning and in patients treated with ultrahypofractionated radiotherapy the figure was 83.7%.

Although patients who had the ultrahypofractionated treatment suffered slightly worse side-effects at the end of treatment, long-term side-effects were the same as those experienced by patients who had the standard treatment.

Professor Widmark added: "Previous research has already shown that it's possible to increase individual doses and give them over four to five weeks. Now we have shown that we can condense the therapy further, raising the dose at each hospital visit so that the whole schedule lasts only two and half weeks.

"This is the first large patient trial of this kind and it shows that ultrahypofractionated radiotherapy is just as effective as standard radiotherapy at stopping prostate cancer from returning. Importantly, it also shows that patients treated in this way do not suffer any more side-effects than those treated with conventional radiotherapy."

The researchers plan to continue to study the patients in the trial to check whether there are differences in their survival or side-effects in the longer-term.

President of ESTRO, Professor Yolande Lievens, head of the department of radiation oncology at Ghent University Hospital, Belgium, said: "Advances in radiotherapy mean that we are better able to locate and target tumours while minimising damage to nearby organs. In , this can mean men retaining urinary and sexual function. This also means that we can consider giving higher individual doses over a shorter time, as in this study.

"Results of this trial suggests that ultrahypofractionated radiotherapy is equal to conventional . For patients, that could mean they have to spend much less time travelling to and from hospital for . For health services this could help them save resources and get more patients treated sooner."

Explore further: Targeted radiotherapy for breast cancer offers good quality of life and fewer side effects

More information: Abstract no: OC-0599, "Ultrahypofractionation for prostate cancer: outcome from the Scandinavian phase 3 HYPORT-PC trial", Late-breaking abstracts and practice changing trials at 17:05 hrs (CEST) on Monday, 23 April, room 117.

Related Stories

Targeted radiotherapy for breast cancer offers good quality of life and fewer side effects

April 22, 2018
Quality of life for women treated with a more targeted radiotherapy treatment - called accelerated partial breast irradiation - is at least as good as quality of life for women treated with standard radiotherapy, according ...

Elderly less likely to benefit from simultaneous radio- and chemotherapy for lung cancer

April 20, 2018
An analysis of elderly patients treated in a phase II trial of radiotherapy combined with chemotherapy in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) has shown that they were less likely to benefit than younger patients if the two ...

Correcting tiny differences in patient's position for radiotherapy could increase survival chances

April 22, 2018
Very small differences in the way a patient lies during radiotherapy treatment for lung or oesophageal cancer can have an impact on how likely they are to survive, according to research presented at the ESTRO 37 conference.

Daisies offer a double boost for prostate cancer treatment

March 8, 2018
A compound derived from feverfew daisies can boost radiotherapy for the treatment of prostate cancer. The compound reduces the therapy's side effects and increases its cancer-killing ability.

Pelvis-targeting radiotherapy safe for prostate cancer patients

September 27, 2017
A form of radiotherapy targeting the pelvis is safe for men with advanced localised prostate cancer, according to a new study.

Big data analysis predicts risk of radiotherapy side effects

November 7, 2017
Analysing big data to predict men's risk of side effects could help personalise radiotherapy treatment for prostate cancer, according to new research presented at the National Cancer Research Institute's (NCRI) Cancer Conference ...

Recommended for you

Healthy diets linked to better outcomes in colorectal cancer

October 20, 2018
Colorectal cancer patients who followed healthy diets had a lower risk of death from colorectal cancer and all causes, even those who improved their diets after being diagnosed, according to a new American Cancer Society ...

Why some cancers affect only young women

October 19, 2018
Among several forms of pancreatic cancer, one of them specifically affects women, often young. How is this possible, even though the pancreas is an organ with little exposure to sex hormones? This pancreatic cancer, known ...

Scientists to improve cancer treatment effectiveness

October 19, 2018
Together with researchers from the University of Nantes and the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne in France, experts from the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI have recently developed a quantum dot-based microarray ...

Mutant cells colonize our tissues over our lifetime

October 18, 2018
By the time we reach middle age, more than half of the oesophagus in healthy people has been taken over by cells carrying mutations in cancer genes, scientists have uncovered. By studying normal oesophagus tissue, scientists ...

Study involving hundreds of patient samples may reveal new treatment options of leukemia

October 17, 2018
After more than five years and 672 patient samples, an OHSU research team has published the largest cancer dataset of its kind for a form of leukemia. The study, "Functional Genomic Landscape of Acute Myeloid Leukemia", published ...

A 150-year-old drug might improve radiation therapy for cancer

October 17, 2018
A drug first identified 150 years ago and used as a smooth-muscle relaxant might make tumors more sensitive to radiation therapy, according to a recent study led by researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.