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Medical Breakthrough Award

02 June 2014

Prostate Cancer (#CUII2) - From 3.15 to end

Defining a Standard of Care for Locally Advanced Prostate Cancer

An international study which led to major changes in the treatment of prostate cancer has jointly won the Medical Breakthrough prize at the Cardiff University Innovation and Impact Awards.

The research showed that the risk of death for men suffering from locally advanced or high-risk prostate cancer could be cut significantly by adding radiation therapy to standard hormone treatments.

Professor Malcolm Mason, Cancer Research Wales Professor of Clinical Oncology at the School of Medicine, led the UK arm of the research trial into prostate cancer since 1998, when he was appointed as the UK Chief Investigator, leading the study in this country for the Medical Research Council. Prostate cancer kills around 10,000 men in the UK every year.

With colleagues from Canada and North America, Professor Mason and the Medical Research Council team presented new evidence showing that survival rates significantly improve if radiation is added to standard hormone treatments when treating men whose cancer has spread beyond the prostate.


Professor Mason said: "The study has been hailed as something that may change clinical practice. Based on the evidence we have, it would result in the prevention of 43 per cent of deaths from prostate cancer in men with locally advanced cancer.

"Such men make up around 40 percent of all new cases of prostate cancer in the UK, and therefore the results have the potential, worldwide, to prevent thousands of deaths from prostate cancer every year. The success of this study is a real testament to international collaboration, and to the close working relationship between the National Cancer Institute of Canada and the UK Medical Research Council."

Matt Sydes, Senior Scientist in the Medical Research Council Clinical Trials Unit added: "This trial exemplifies the importance of international randomised controlled trials in high quality evidence-based medicine. Good data underpins good decision-making. By gathering robust statistics, we were able to show how we could target, and treat, high risk patients."

Locally advanced prostate cancer (where a tumour has extended outside the prostate gland to surrounding tissues) affects around 4,000 men per year in the UK. Prior to the underpinning research, there was no consensus on the standard of care, with hormone therapy often being given alone.

The International randomised clinical trial, led by Cardiff researchers showed that treating locally advanced disease with a combination of radiotherapy and hormone therapy halved the risks of dying of prostate cancer.  

The trial changed medical guidelines and practice in Europe and North America. Prior to the underpinning research, hormone therapy alone was considered adequate treatment. Following Professor Mason’s study, NICE guidelines now advise that 100% of patients suitable for radiotherapy must be offered it.

Liz Andrews, Charity Director at Cancer Research Wales, said: " The impact of this study on prostate cancer treatment is a real international success story and testimony to Welsh-based cancer research."