22 Oct 2018
This article is more than 3 years old

We call for upfront radiotherapy for some men with advanced disease to extend more than 3,000 lives a year

The latest results from the STAMPEDE trial have shown immediate radiotherapy with standard hormone therapy could increase the survival of thousands of men diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer that hasn't spread too widely. We're now calling for the treatment to be offered to these men as standard on the NHS.

Upfront radiotherapy could extend the lives of 3,000 men in England alone, say researchers after the latest results from the long-running STAMPEDE trial were announced.

Treating the prostate straightaway with radiotherapy alongside standard hormone therapy treatment was found to increase three-year survival rates for men whose cancer had only spread to nearby nodes and bones to 83%, compared with 73% who didn't get radiotherapy. For men whose cancer had spread more widely, radiotherapy showed no extra benefit.

Because more than 8,000 men are diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in England each year, and 40% of those have cancers that would benefit from upfront radiotherapy, the researchers estimate at least 3,000 men could have their lives extended by the treatment.

Standard of care should change worldwide

"These findings could and should change standard of care worldwide," said Dr Chris Parker, lead researcher of the study at The Royal Marsden. "Until now, it was thought that there was no point in treating the prostate itself if the cancer had already spread because it would be like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.

"However, this study proves the benefit of prostate radiotherapy for these men. Unlike many new drugs for cancer, radiotherapy is a simple, relatively cheap treatment that is readily available in most parts of the world."

Treatment should be offered without delay

Our acting deputy director of research, Simon Grieveson, agrees, saying: "We want to see the use of radiotherapy extended to this group of men without delay, providing them with an additional treatment option and precious extra time with their loved ones. It’s important that these men also receive the support they need to decide whether they can manage the side-effects that these treatments can cause.  

"Unfortunately, the impact of introducing radiotherapy at this stage was not universally effective in extending life and men whose cancer had spread more widely did not experience the same benefit. Further research is therefore needed to help us better understand what drives each individual man’s cancer and which combinations of treatments will work best to stop it in its tracks."