Surgeons in Southampton are part of a groundbreaking national trial that could transform the treatment of advanced prostate cancer.
Around 47,000 men in the UK are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year and, in 30% of cases, it has already spread to other parts of the body.
Currently, these patients receive only hormone therapy to slow the growth of cancer in the body alongside chemotherapy – but no treatment to remove the primary tumour in the prostate.
However, recent research suggests the original site of the cancer may send “growth signals” to areas of the body where it has spread which, if halted, could improve survival rates for those affected.
In a nationwide trial led by Professor Hashim Ahmed at Imperial College London involving 918 patients, surgeons will study the effects of using highly-focused ultrasound, surgery or radiotherapy combined with the current standard treatment.
One group will receive focal therapy, which uses highly-focused ultrasound energy or targeted freezing techniques to destroy the prostate tumour without damaging adjacent tissue.
Another group will undergo either a prostatectomy which involves using latest keyhole and robotic-assisted surgery to remove the whole prostate gland and surrounding affected tissue or receive radiotherapy at a curative high dose.
All patients will also be offered highly-focused radiotherapy – stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR) – treatment directed at areas in which the cancer has spread, known as metastatic deposits.
“New research suggests the primary prostate tumour sends growth signals to the cancer that has spread to other areas of the body, so we need to explore the impact of this further,” explained Tim Dudderidge, a consultant urological surgeon at UHS and site study lead.
“The hope is that, by removing the main tumour, we could slow down cancer growth in other parts of the body as these areas will no longer receive these signals – thus improving survival.”
He added: “This is potentially game-changing as, if it shows a clear benefit of treating the primary tumour in patients with advanced prostate cancer, it will turn decades of knowledge on its head, transform treatment options and save more lives.”
Martin Connor, senior clinical research fellow to Professor Ahmed at Imperial College London, said: “The ability to offer men with advanced prostate cancer the latest in specialist targeted cancer treatments at 17 sites across England and Wales through this study is a pivotal step forward."
For more information about the study, funded by the Wellcome Trust, visit http://imperialprostate.org.uk/atlanta/.
Posted on Thursday 5 September 2019