New study casts doubt on need for prostate cancer therapy

15 September 2016

Treatment for prostate cancer may not always be necessary or beneficial in the ways that might be expected, according to a new study.

The ProtecT trial was led by researchers at the Universities of Oxford and Bristol across nine UK centres to assess the efficacy, cost-effectiveness and acceptability of three major treatment options for men with prostate cancer: active monitoring, surgery and radiotherapy.

It was shown that all three treatments resulted in similarly low rates of death from prostate cancer, with surgery and radiotherapy shown to reduce the risk of cancer progression over time compared with active monitoring, but causing more unpleasant side-effects.

Prostate cancer was generally shown to grow very slowly, with only around one per cent of men dying of the disease when followed up over a period of ten years, irrespective of the treatment assigned. This was a much lower number than anticipated.

Study investigator Professor Freddie Hamdy from the University of Oxford said: "Treating the disease radically when found reduces the number of men who develop spread of prostate cancer, but we do not know yet whether this will make a difference to them living longer or better."

Posted by Edward Bartel


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