High-risk prostate cancer sufferers could be successfully treated with hormone therapy in half the normal time, according to a new study.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, with about 36,000 diagnosed with the disease each year. Unlike many other cancers, prostate cancer usually progresses very slowly, and it can usually be cured if it is treated in its early stages.
To treat the disease, patients usually undergo hormone therapy, which blocks production of testosterone. Side effects of the treatment include fatigue, hot flashes, loss of sexual desire, and the weakening of bones and muscles.
In order to find out whether treatment time can be reduced to limit these side effects, researchers compared the results of 18 months of prostate cancer therapy with a more standard 36 months.
The study involved 630 patients from 10 hospitals in Quebec. All of the participants suffered from localised but high-risk prostate cancer, and were treated with radiation therapy and hormone therapy.
Researchers found that after a six and a half year follow-up period, 77.1% of men who received 36 months of therapy were still alive, as were 76.1% of men who were treated for 18 months. The difference was not considered statistically significant.
In addition, the survival rate was similar for both lengths of treatment in a follow-up period of ten years. There was no statistically significant difference between spread of cancer to the bone, or rate of biochemical failure.
Presenting at the Genitourinary Cancers Symposium in Orlando, experts hope that the study results mean that cancer patients are spared months of unpleasant side effects.
Lead researcher Dr. Abdenour Nabid said that patients would be followed for two or three more years but that he was confident the results would hold up.
However, some researchers have argued that further studies are needed to draw firm conclusions. The difference between therapy length and quality of life is still being researched.
One of the main benefits of having a medical insurance policy is having access to new cancer drugs and treatments before they become approved for widespread use on the NHS. For more information, look for a policy with full cancer cover.
© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2013