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31 May 2013
A pioneering University scientist whose research helped change the way prostate cancer is treated has been awarded a major scientific award.
Professor Malcolm Mason, School of Medicine, was presented with the William Farr Medal for his research in combining radiotherapy and hormone therapy in patients with prostate cancer which significantly improves men’s survival compared with hormone therapy treatment alone.
"Prostate cancer accounts for 10,000 male deaths in the UK each year and is the second most common cause of cancer death in men, after lung cancer.
"The trial was conducted because it was unknown whether radiotherapy would help to extend the lives of men with prostate cancer and reduce their chances of dying from their cancer," according to Professor Mason.
The randomised controlled trial led by Professor Mason and known in the UK as PR07, recruited 1,205 men between 1995 and 2005. The men, predominantly from the UK and Canada, had been diagnosed with locally advanced prostate cancer which had grown outside the surface of the prostate but had not spread further.
Half of the group were treated with hormone therapy, a standard form of drug treatment, and the other half were treated with a combination of the same hormone therapy plus an additional course of radiotherapy.
By providing radiotherapy in addition to hormone therapy, the researchers found that 74 per cent of men were still alive after seven years, compared with 66 per cent who did not receive radiotherapy. The researchers found that those who received radiotherapy were about half as likely to die from their prostate cancer.
On his award, Professor Mason said: "It’s always pleasing to be recognised - but in reality this award goes to all the men who took part in this trial which has shown radiotherapy to be so worthwhile for patients with the type of prostate cancer we call ‘locally advanced’.
"This is only just the start - the next stage will be to ensure that the results of this trial are implemented into treatment recommendations as quickly as possible," he adds.
Professor Mason is head of the University’s Institute of Cancer & Genetics at the School of Medicine. Based at Velindre Hospital, he is also Director of the Wales Cancer Bank, one of the foremost of its kind worldwide, and has revolutionised opportunities for cancer research, collecting blood and tissue samples from thousands of people in Wales either suffering from cancer or with a potential cancer diagnosis.
Vice-Chancellor, Professor Colin Riordan said: "By answering the important question of whether prostate cancer patients would benefit from radiotherapy, Professor Mason has helped alter the way prostate cancer is treated, making sure that treatment decisions are based on the best possible evidence.
"On behalf of everyone at Cardiff University I congratulate Professor Mason on his richly deserved award."
The William Farr Medal was instituted by the Worshipful Society of the Apothecaries.
Professor Mason was presented with his medal at a Galen Society Dinner in London on the 30th May.
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