Welsh patients' role in prostate cancer study breakthrough

A prostate cancer cell Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption A prostate cancer cell - 2,500 patients are diagnosed each year in Wales.

A cancer expert has spoken of the role Welsh patients have played in a major study into prostate cancer treatment.

The life of patients with prostate cancer could be prolonged by up to two years by combining hormone therapy with a drug, researchers believe.

The Wales Cancer Research Centre was involved in a trial of 1,776 men.

The results were revealed earlier this year but have now been published in The Lancet.

It claimed patients who took a chemotherapy drug alongside hormone therapy lived, on average, 10 months longer.

Study vice chairman Prof Malcolm Mason said he was "thrilled to see such positive results".

The international research study is called Stampede - or Systemic Therapy in Advancing or Metastatic Prostate cancer: Evaluation of Drug Efficacy.

Nearly 20,000 people have prostate cancer in Wales and more patients took part in the research from Wales than any other area.

Hormone therapy is used to stop a tumour growing but in most cases, over time, it starts to grow again.

The trial has looked at using other treatments in combination with it.

The drug Docetaxel was used alongside hormone or radio therapy in 1,184 of the trial patients.

'Big success'

It was compared with the results of 592 men who received the standard therapy.

The drug is commonly used and is inexpensive, although it has temporary chemotherapy side-effects.

It is usually prescribed when therapy has failed.

Image copyright Wales Cancer Research Centre
Image caption Prof Mason is one of the original designers of the study

Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff has been one of the main participants in the research.

Prof Mason of the Wales Cancer Research Centre said: "In Wales, we put more patients into this trial than any other region, so this is really a big success for NHS Wales.

"Based on the results, we would recommend that Docetaxel should be incorporated into the standard of care for men with metastatic prostate cancer who are starting long-term hormone therapy for the first time and are fit enough to receive chemotherapy."

The trial has been financed by Cancer Research UK and five pharmaceutical companies.

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