Men's health * Healthy living

Hormone therapy doubles prostate cancer survival

Hormone therapy doubles prostate cancer survival Also lowers side effects

Six months of hormone therapy combined with radiotherapy doubles the chances of surviving prostate cancer, a study has found.

Androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) - also known as hormone therapy - works by lowering the levels of male hormones that boost the growth of prostate cancer tumours.

Although it can increase survival in men with locally advanced prostate cancer, prolonged use can lead to serious side-effects including impotence, high cholesterol, fatigue, anaemia and even heart attacks.

However, a team of scientists from Australia and New Zealand analysed data from a clinical trial involving 802 men with locally advanced prostate cancer who were treated with radiotherapy, or radiotherapy and ADT for three or six months. The ADT was administered before and during the radiotherapy treatment (NADT).

After 10 years, the death rate in the group treated with six months of NADT plus radiotherapy was 11 per cent compared with 22 per cent in the group treated with radiotherapy alone. And the chances of death due to any causes was reduced by a third.

However, three months of NADT had no effect on the 10-year rates of distant cancerous spread, prostate-cancer death, or death due to any cause compared with radiation alone.

Researchers also reported in the journal Lancet Oncology that the combined treatment resulted in fewer side-effects.

Chris Parker from The Royal Marsden Hospital commented: "[This] is an important trial, and has two clear messages for current clinical practice.

"First, it confirms that NADT significantly reduces mortality after radiotherapy for high-risk prostate cancer, and is a standard of care.

"Second, it helps to resolve the uncertainty regarding NADT duration, and strongly suggests that men receiving NADT should have at least six months treatment."

This article was published on Fri 25 March 2011

Image © Andrey Ushakov -

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