British hospitals are testing a new radiotherapy treatment for prostate cancer that researchers believe can improve outcomes without producing any of the side effects typically associated with treating the prostate.
While standard radiography delivers equal amounts of radiation to the whole prostate, according to an announcement from the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, with dose painting radiotherapy, MRI or PET/CT can be used to first identify areas in which the presence of cancer is more pronounced. Then, highly-targeted doses of radiation are delivered to those areas.
The technique is appropriate for patients with a higher density of cancer cells that haven't spread from the prostate. According to Clatterbridge, this applies to between 30 and 50 percent of all prostate cancer cases.
"If we increase the standard radiation dose, we improve the outcome for high-risk patients, but we also increase the risk of side effects and damage to healthy cells in organs near the prostate such as the bladder and the bowels," Isabel Syndikus, a clinical oncologist at Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, said in the statement. "High dose painting radiotherapy is designed to reduce side effects significantly while still improving the local control of the cancer, making the treatment shorter and with fewer complications. "
The treatment is being offered as part of a clinical trial currently taking place at Clatterbridge Cancer Centre and London's Royal Marsden Hospital.
"We would welcome any research that will add to our current armory and this has the potential to become an additional treatment for some men while offering fewer side effects than other similar options," Iain Frame, director of research at Prostate Cancer U.K., said, according to an article in the Daily Express.
Continued Frame: "It is too early to tell whether the claims about increased survival rates are realistic but we will await the results of this study with great interest. We encourage all men who are offered the opportunity to take part in a study like this because by doing so they are helping make the advances we need to defeat this disease."