Advanced radiotherapy technology could cut prostate cancer treatment time from two months to two weeks, safely delivering curative treatment for some patients, new research suggests.
In the PACE-B trial researchers used ultra-hypofractionated stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) to deliver five higher doses of radiation to patients over one to two weeks.
The technique allows scientists to target tumours to sub-millimetre precision.
Greater accuracy reduces the chance of damaging surrounding healthy tissue, which can lead to urinary and rectal side effects such as more frequent or urgent urination and diarrhoea.
Researchers found in the three months after treatment, side effects were no worse when compared with patients who had conventional therapy with more moderate doses over a much longer period of time.
They are still awaiting data on long-term side-effects and overall efficacy, with the treatment technique currently only available in a trial setting in the UK.
"The new results from our clinical trial have shown that a much shorter course of higher-dose radiotherapy does not increase short term side effects compared with the current standard of care," study author Dr Douglas Brand, research fellow in clinical oncology at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said.
"If the data on longer-term side effects and efficacy are also positive, we expect our trial could be practice-changing."
He said this would enable the delivery of curative treatment over fewer days.
The study, published in The Lancet Oncology, looked at whether practitioners could safely increase the dose of targeted radiation, and so reduce the number of treatments required.
Patients with prostate cancer were randomised to groups, with 847 patients treated in total.
The research was presented at the American Society for Radiation Oncology Annual Meeting on Tuesday.
Australian Associated Press