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Trial to find the best treatment for prostate cancer

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by Cancer Research UK | News

18 July 2008

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A NEW Cancer Research UK clinical trial has been launched to investigate the best treatment options for men who have had surgery for early stage prostate cancer.

The trial – named RADICALS* – is partly funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and Cancer Research UK and aims to provide the definitive guide on when and how to use radiotherapy and hormone therapy to treat prostate cancer after surgery.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK. Over the last 30 years prostate cancer rates have tripled, largely due to the increasing use of PSA testing, which has led to more diagnoses.

Early stage prostate cancer – cancer contained within the prostate gland – is often treated with surgery. Some patients, depending on their PSA** test results after surgery will then be given either radiotherapy, or a combination of radiotherapy and hormone therapy.

The use of these treatments varies across the country and doctors are uncertain about which treatment is best for all men.

Dr Chris Parker, from the Institute of Cancer Research, is chief investigator for the trial and said: “There’s a lot of uncertainty around how to treat men who have had their prostate removed. PSA testing is likely to increase in the future. This will result in more men being diagnosed with prostate cancer. So this investigation is essential to ensure that all men receive the best treatment.”

Researchers want to understand, firstly whether further treatments should be given to all men and for how long, regardless of their PSA levels. And secondly, when radiotherapy should be given and whether it is more effective to use it alone, or to combine it with hormone therapy.

Jim Stansfeld, who represents the patients on the RADICALS trial, said: “Back in 1998 and after surgery to remove my prostate gland, I was identified as having an aggressive cancer and it was possible that not all of it had been removed. Clearly some follow up treatment was necessary but what would be best?

“The RADICALS trial sets out to help answer this question so that in the future patients can be well advised. I feel strongly that those who are able to join this trial should do so, for their own benefit, and also to add to this knowledge that will benefit men in the future.”

This international study will recruit over 4,000 men. Patients who are about to have a prostatectomy – removal of the prostate gland – or who have had surgery in the past and are about to have radiotherapy, are likely to approached by their specialist to see if they would like to participate in the trial.

Kate Law, Cancer Research UK’s director of clinical trials, said: “Prostate cancer is now the most common cancer in men in the UK – there are around 35,000 men newly diagnosed with prostate cancer every year, that’s more than 650 new cases every week. It’s vital that we continue research like this to understand more about the best way to treat this disease for all men.”

For more information about this or any other cancer clinical trial please visit the CancerHelp UK website, or call our specialist nurses on 020 7061 8355.

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact in the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 7061 8300 or, out-of-hours, the duty press officer on 07050 264 059.