Thousands of cancer patients could benefit from radiotherapy treatment that extends life expectancy

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The ‘missile’ that targets prostate tumours: Thousands of patients could benefit from radical radiotherapy treatment that extends life expectancy, major trial suggests

  • Radical radiotherapy treatment could help men with advanced prostate cancer 
  • Results of first major trial shows it extends life expectancy by about four months
  • Radioactive molecules act like a ‘guided missile’ to find and kill the cancer cells 

Thousands of men with advanced prostate cancer are expected to benefit from a radical radiotherapy treatment shown to extend life expectancy.

It uses radioactive molecules which act like a ‘guided missile’ to find and kill the cancer cells. 

Results of the first major trial of the Lu-PSMA-617 therapy found it extends the life of men with advanced cancer by an average of four months. The findings were presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference. 

Results of the first major trial of the Lu-PSMA-617 therapy found it extends the life of men with advanced cancer by an average of four months

Results of the first major trial of the Lu-PSMA-617 therapy found it extends the life of men with advanced cancer by an average of four months

Study co-author Professor Johann de Bono of The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, said: ‘This treatment acts like a guided missile – seeking out cancer cells.’ 

The radiotherapy targets a protein on the surface of the cancer cells called PSMA, blasting it with a radioactive isotope called Lutetium-177.

The trial involved 831 patients and was led by an international group including the Institute of Cancer Research in London. 

Men who received the Lu-PSMA-617 therapy were found to be 38 per cent less likely to die than those receiving standard care over the 21-month trial follow-up period.

They also stayed healthier for longer, surviving on average for 8.7 months before their cancer got worse, compared with only 3.4 months for men on standard care.

The trial, led by an international group, involved 831 patients (stock image)

The trial, led by an international group, involved 831 patients (stock image)

The ‘seek and destroy’ radiotherapy is the most promising development in prostate cancer for more than 15 years.

Some 49,000 British men develop the disease each year, and it kills 11,900.

The therapy would initially be available for up to 5,000 men a year with advanced prostate cancer, when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

This could potentially help cure the cancer before it spreads, researchers hope.

Scientists are also trialling it on patients at an earlier stage of the disease, potentially opening it up to thousands more men.

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