Recent findings from a major clinical trial presented at the NCRI Cancer Conference in Liverpool this week has suggested that the NHS could save millions by changing to a new radiotherapy regime targeted at patients with prostate cancer.

According to the CHHiP study, led by researchers at the National Cancer Research Institute, Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and funded by Cancer Research UK, by using a modern form of radiotherapy in higher doses over fewer hospital visits than is currently recommended. Is just as effective in delaying cancer progression as current methods whilst proving to be cheaper and more convenient for patients.

Researchers have stated daily treatment given in higher doses over a period of 20 days as opposed to lower doses over the current 37-day period would lead to a national reduction of more than 150,000 hospital visits per year, during this period the regime also did not increase the rate of side effects.

CR UK’s prostate cancer expert, Malcolm Mason, said the results are “great news for men”.

“From a logistical and patient convenience point of view, being able to treat patients over a shorter period of time has been a goal for specialists, but the question has always been whether it was safe to do so. This study shows that it is safe and effective, and there should be no reason why this cannot be implemented immediately - it is saving the NHS resources”.

Abiraterone resistance blood test

Meanwhile, scientists from the Institute for Cancer Research, The Royal Marsden, and the University of Trento, Italy, have developed a blood test that can identify key mutations behind resistance to a popular prostate cancer drug, helping to identify patients unlikely to respond to treatment.

By analysing 274 blood samples from 97 patients with DNA sequencing techniques, the researchers found that mutations in a gene called the androgen receptor predicted resistance to abiraterone, and that these mutations led to poorer survival.

Abiraterone is the standard therapy for men with advanced prostate cancer, however 30%-60% of patients do not respond to treatment. The study’s findings should help personalise treatment with the drug without the need for a biopsy, so that only those who will benefit receive it.

“Critically, we believe that this sort of technology would be relatively straightforward to implement in NHS hospitals, making it accessible to a large number of patients,” said Gerhardt Attard, clinician scientist at The ICR and consultant medical oncologist at The Royal Marsden.

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