Prostate cancer updates

Improved Prostate cancer survival by hormone therapy

A Hunter-based prostate cancer support group says ground-breaking research by the University of Newcastle will help save many lives in the region. This new work has found patients with localized advanced prostate cancer can double their chances of survival by undertaking hormone therapy in combination with radiology treatment. This comes from a 10 year trial, coordinated by the University's Professor Jim Debnam.

According to Hunter Prostate Cancer Alliance, CEO Cary Lee, prostate cancer sufferers greatly appreciate the work being done to improve treatment. “We're really blessed to have Professor Jim Denham as one of the leading authorities in prostate cancer in the area… And we work closely with Jim…Having ground-breaking research like that will really help save lives in the Hunter,” he said.

This new approach combines radiotherapy with six months of prior hormone therapy. Researchers at the University of Newcastle in Australia and Calvary Mater Newcastle carried out the clinical trial involving 802 men with locally advanced prostate cancer. Participants were assigned to one of three treatment groups - radiotherapy alone; radiotherapy with three months of hormone therapy; or radiotherapy with six months of hormone therapy.

The risk of death ten years after treatment among men who had received radiotherapy with six months of hormone therapy was reduced to 11 per cent, compared with 22 per cent for those who had radiotherapy alone. But, radiotherapy with just three months of hormone therapy did not prevent the cancer from spreading to other parts of the body, and was associated with similar numbers of deaths as radiotherapy alone.

The findings build on previously published results from the same study and are published in the Lancet Oncology. They indicate that the combination therapy may significantly improve the chances of survival in men with locally advanced prostate cancer.

Lead researcher Professor Jim Denham explained that these updated results are important adding that although doctors already knew about the benefit of giving patients hormone treatment before radiotherapy, they did not know the best duration of treatment to effectively control disease but cause minimal side-effects. He added, “Prolonged hormone therapy carries many side-effects, including erectile dysfunction, hot flashes, fatigue, osteoporosis, high cholesterol and anemia. Associated cardiac problems have also been fatal for some patients…With this research, we now know that six months of hormone therapy with radiotherapy will provide a very effective treatment for locally advanced prostate cancer over the next decade.”

Oliver Childs, senior science information Officer at Cancer Research UK, said, “Trials like this are important, as they help doctors maintain the tricky balance between effectively treating cancer and avoiding side-effects. This work confirms that six months hormone treatment with radiotherapy strikes the right balance for men with prostate cancer.”

Prostate cancer and premature balding

A latest study has shown that prostate cancer may be linked to premature balding. Researchers found that young men who show signs of baldness are twice as likely to develop prostate cancer.

Nearly 50% of men will experience male pattern baldness in their lifetime, though the onset of this condition occurs at middle-age. Still, some men start losing hair before the age of 20, and these are the guys whose risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer is doubled. Meanwhile, those who maintained a full head of hair into their 30s did not demonstrate an increased risk of prostate cancer down the line.

While more research will need to be conducted to verify this link, the study is a significant step in the fight against prostate cancer say researchers. Since catching prostate cancer early is important for successful treatment, identifying warning signs for the disease will certainly assist in the detection process.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

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