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Radiotherapy 'cuts prostate cancer death rate'

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Hundreds of lives a year could be saved in the UK if more prostate cancer patients are treated with radiotherapy, according to researchers.

A team of scientists led by Dr Matthew Sydes, from the Medical Research Council Clinical Trials Unit, studied 1,205 men with locally advanced cancers which had grown outside the prostate gland but not spread further. Their findings were published online by the Lancet medical journal.

A significant difference in fatality rates was recorded after half were treated with standard hormone therapy and the remainder with hormone therapy plus radiotherapy.

Some 74% of the men given additional radiotherapy were still alive after seven years compared with 66% in the standard group.

About 38,000 UK men are diagnosed with prostate cancer annually, of whom 10,000 are likely to have locally advanced cancers. Each year 10,000 men die from the disease and the London-based team led calculates that hundreds of lives could be saved each year if all these men received radiotherapy in addition to hormone treatment.

Dr Sydes, who described the trial results as extremely encouraging, added: “The additional side-effects of radiotherapy are minimal.”


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