Doctors keyhole surgery to treat prostate cancer.
Doctors keyhole surgery to treat prostate cancer.

Radiation therapy comparable to surgery for prostate cancer

A NEW study has found radiation therapy on prostate cancer is comparable to surgical removal, but fewer than half of all Australian men with the disease saw a radiation oncologist. The UK study shows men with early prostate cancer are more likely to be free from cancer at 10 years if they have radiation therapy or surgery compared to undergoing monitoring only.

The New England Journal of Medicine said there was no difference in quality of life between radiation and surgery, and fewer urinary and sexual problems after radiation therapy.

Results of the Prostate Testing for Cancer and Treatment Trial (ProtecT) were published in 2 papers in ; the first looked at whether there were differences between survival outcomes and spread of cancer outside the prostate (metastases) for men having active monitoring, radiation therapy or surgery and the other reported on quality of life and side effects.

"These findings are the strongest proof we have to date that curative radiation therapy is equally likely to control prostate cancer and give good quality of life as radical prostatectomy," said A/Prof Sandra Turner, Councillor of the Faculty of Radiation Oncology at the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR).

"There is a still an important role for active surveillance in early prostate cancer but this study does strongly support the importance of men knowing about all their prostate cancer treatment options by ensuring they talk to a radiation oncologist as well as a urologist. As prostate cancer experts we are obligated to strongly encourage men to take the time to talk to all the experts and to facilitate this in all cases where active treatment may be needed. Less than half of men in Australia at present get to talk to a radiation oncologist before treatment," said A/Prof Turner.

The ProtecT trial was led by researchers at the universities of Oxford and Bristol in nine UK centres. 82,429 men across the UK aged 50-69 were tested and 1,643 diagnosed with localised prostate cancer agreed to be included in this randomised trial between 1999 and 2009.The research team measured mortality rates at 10 years and cancer progression as well as the impact of treatment on these men.

Every year about 22,000 Australian men are diagnosed with prostate cancer and about 3,300 men die from it.

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