Prostate cancer treatment breakthrough

Researchers have developed a method by which thousands of men with prostate cancer could choose their own treatment. The new tool could help patients determine the likelihood of surviving the next 10 to 15 years, and the best course of treatment to improve their chances of survival.

Patient being diagnosed with prostate cancerImage Point Fr | Shutterstock

At present, only one-third of prostate cancer patients have a low risk of dying. For these patients, surgery or radiotherapy could alter their chances of survival by only a small amount.

The new method is a computer questionnaire. Under the doctor’s supervision, the patient can complete the questionnaire within a few minutes. It would then provide the expected odds of death due to cancer or other illnesses for the patient in the following 10 to 15 years.

In addition, a chart would reveal the chances of the patient surviving after treatment. The questionnaire is called the PREDICT Prostate questionnaire and the results of its study and design were published in the latest issue of the journal PLOS.

The study is titled, “Individual prognosis at diagnosis in nonmetastatic prostate cancer: Development and external validation of the PREDICT Prostate multivariable model,”

The questionnaire, which consists of 10 questions, uses data about the stage of cancer, age of the individuals, and medical test results. The results also inform the patients about their risk of getting urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction. Apart from surgery or radiation therapy, the patients may choose “active surveillance” wherein the cancer is closely monitored.

We believe this tool could significantly reduce the number of unnecessary - and potentially harmful - treatments that patients receive and save the NHS millions every year.

This isn't about rationing treatments - it's about empowering patients and their clinicians to make decisions based on better evidence. In some cases, treatment will be the right option, but in many others, patients will want to weigh up the treatment benefits versus the risks of side effects.”

Dr Vincent Gnanapragasam, Author

Prostate cancer is diagnosed in over 47000 British men each year and the numbers are on the rise (slated to rise by 69 percent by 2030). Men diagnosed with the cancer are divided into three groups - low, intermediate or high risk from prostate cancer. This classification is only around 60 to 70 percent accurate.

The new test, on the other hand, is around 84 percent accurate in predicting outcome say the researchers. They looked at over 10,000 British men with cancer and at 2,546 men with cancer from Singapore.

As far as we are aware, this is the first personalised tool to give an overall survival estimate for men following a prostate cancer diagnosis. We hope it will provide a more accurate and objective estimate to help men reach an informed decision in discussion with their consultant.”

Dr David Thurtle, Lead Author

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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