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Radiotherapy boost for prostate cancer patients

28 June 2016 08:03

Prostate cancer sufferers could be treated in a different way

Prostate cancer sufferers could be treated in a different way

Prostate cancer patients could have their radiotherapy sessions almost slashed in half following a successful 14-year trial.

The experiment suggests that the method could help the NHS make major savings. This would be without lowering efficiency or raising the danger of side-effects in the long term, scientists claim.

The more concentrated radiotherapy plan means that sufferers would have just 20 sessions rather than the existing 37. This is what happened with over 3,200 patients who underwent the Cancer Research UK-funded trial.

They received so-called "intensity-modulated radiation therapy" (IMRT). This delivers greater beam dosages and is more tailor-made to suit individual patients.

The shorter programme has seen daily radiation doses raised to three Grays (absorbed radiation energy) from the current two.

Peace-of-mind holidays

Trusted cancer-related travel insurance can take away some of the stresses of holiday travel for prostate cancer patients.

For a start, it offers them round-the-clock medical help should the worst happen. It can also replace stolen or lost medication.

As well as the medical protection, it also provides all the usual travel insurance benefits.

So what do the trials mean?

There is no medical difference between the old and new treatments, according to David Dearnaley, of the London-based Institute of Cancer Research (ICR).

But there is a huge gap in the amount it costs to fund them. Prof Dearnaley says the money the NHS could save would free up spaces for more sufferers to get radiotherapy sessions sooner.

He estimates that, if adopted, there would be 150,000-plus fewer hospital visits every year - or 17 per person.

By delivering radiation beams to different segments of a treatment area, IMRT helps to reduce the side-effects when concentrating on cancers near to key structures or organs.

The Lancet Oncology journal published the findings of the new study.