Queens scientists’ breakthrough in treatment of prostate cancer

SCIENTISTS have made a breakthrough in treating a cancer that kills 500 men in Ireland every year.

The team of researchers have discovered a way to tackle an advanced and aggressive form of prostate cancer that has spread to bone and they have begun a trial with patients aimed at fine-tuning the treatment method.

Prostate cancer in itself is considered one of the more treatable forms of the disease, but the challenge for patients and doctors increases significantly if it spreads to bone or elsewhere.

Up to now, doctors have been unsure if they could safely and simultaneously prescribe the dual treatments of chemotherapy and radiotherapy to tackle the cancer when it is different locations.

But the team at Queens University Belfast discovered a safe combination that they believe could improve survival rates for men who previously faced cumbersome treatment regimes and a poor outlook for improvement in their condition.

Dr Joe O’Sullivan, consultant and senior lecturer at the Centre for Cancer Research at Queen’s University, who led the study, said the discovery was a significant development in the fight against prostate cancer.

“Traditional chemotherapy treatments aren’t always effective in treating aggressive and advanced forms of prostate cancer, so we needed to develop a new treatment which will provide better outcomes for patients with this type of cancer.

“While this combination treatment still has to go to phase two of trials, to know that this combination is safe and feasible as a treatment is a huge step forward.”

Around 2,500 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in Ireland each year and, while early detection gives them good odds of a recovery or being able keep the disease under control for many years, men who are slower to seek help when symptoms appear can find they already have an advanced form.

The Queens method of treatment has already undergone a limited trial but a wider trial, involving 100 men in Britain and the Netherlands, has just begun and the results are expected to be known within two years.

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