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Prostate Cancer Study Aiming To Pinpoint Best Treatment Time

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Sept 29 NZPA - A new study to determine the best time to treat men with prostate cancer could eventually benefit many sufferers, researchers say.

The trial, led by Auckland City Hospital's radiation oncology department, involves monitoring volunteers with the intention of finding the best time for sufferers to receive radiation therapy after surgery to remove the prostate.

Radiation oncologist and trial head Maria Pearse said there were two ways of managing men at high risk of their cancer recurring after surgery to remove their prostate.

One was radiotherapy within four months of surgery and the other was active surveillance with regular clinic visits and prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood tests.

Dr Pearse said it was not known whether the two approaches were the same in controlling the cancer in the long term and the study aimed to see whether patients managed with active surveillance (and giving radiotherapy when the PSA rises) was as good as immediate radiotherapy.

She said the study would also compare the side effects occurring in each treatment group and what effect the treatments had on quality of life.

"We know from prior studies that half of the men who have radiotherapy immediately after surgery will benefit from it, while the other half will not," Dr Pearse said.

"It is therefore important to determine the best time for men to receive radiation therapy, as some men may be able to avoid unpleasant side effects that sometimes have a long lasting impact."

The trial, developed in collaboration with colleagues in both New Zealand and Australia, needs 470 patients to be effective and 27 have volunteered so far.

There are 16 trial sites to date across New Zealand and Australia, with more to open as recruitment grows.

Recruitment will continue over the next four to five years, with the study going for a further five years after recruitment.

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