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Study compares prostate cancer treatments

22 December 2015 09:47

Prostate cancer can be treated with surgery

Prostate cancer can be treated with surgery

Men who have surgery for prostate cancer are twice as likely to survive as patients who receive radiotherapy, a new study suggests.

Researchers say they reached their conclusion after analysing the results of more than a dozen previous studies covering over 118,000 patients with localised prostate cancer.

The study's author, Dr Robert Nam, of the Sunnybrook Research Institute at Canada's University of Toronto, says previous attempts to compare the success rates of the different types of treatment have been confusing.

'Analysis most robust ever'

But he says his analysis of studies represents the most robust comparison of the therapies' outcomes ever undertaken.

Dr Nam says the research shows that men receiving radiotherapy are twice as likely to die as those who undergo surgery.

Widespread illness

In Europe, around 400,000 men a year are diagnosed with localised prostate cancer, something that can be covered among holidaymakers by a cancer travel insurance policy.

Radiotherapy trends

Dr Nam says while his study suggests surgery has lower mortality rates, there are occasions when radiotherapy will be a more appropriate option for certain patients. He says it is therefore vital that patients talk about therapy options with their doctors.

Dr Nicholas Mottet is chairman of the European Association of Urology's prostate cancer guidelines panel.

He says while the study deserves attention, the results of a large-scale randomised control trial are still required to provide firm proof that surgery results in better survival rates than radiotherapy. He says Dr Nam's study should be taken into account but warns that it does not provide a definitive answer to the question of which treatment is best.

Although the new research provides important additional information, he adds, it should not be used to change clinical practice.

The study is published in the European Urology journal.