Prostate cancer is one of the most common diseases that men can develop throughout their lives, akin to breast cancer for women. Because of this, a lot of research has been put into figuring out ways to deal with it as, even when treated, 30% of patients can have a recurrence at some point in their lives.
With this in mind, the National Cancer Institute in the US decided to hold a study in order to test out the possible effects that hormone therapy could have on recovering patients alongside radiation therapies and to determine if an alternative cancer treatment was a better option.
For the study, all the man went through radiation therapy for six and a half weeks, at the same time, half of those patients received bicalutamide, a hormone blocking drug, for two years when compared to the others who were just given placebos.
The findings for this study were published on 1st February 2017 by the New England Journal of Medicine. The study showed that among men who had been treated for prostate cancer, 76.3% of those who had hormonal therapy alongside radiation therapy were much less likely to develop cancer again even after 12 years since they had the operation. This was compared to only the 71.3% of men who were only treated with radiation. Not just that, but men who had been treated with hormonal therapy were also less likely to die from prostate cancer.
This, according to Dr. Ian M. Thompson Jr. is a huge discovery, as there has been a lot of research into prostate cancer, with little results as to what could be done to diminish its chances of returning.
It should be noted that it also brings some things into question. Hormonal therapy is called Chemical Castration, due to how it represses male hormones and can lead to many side effects, such as hot flashes or sexual problems.
Because of this, there has been a lot of hesitation in regards to implementing it but these findings might justify the continuous use of it if the results are as accurate as they say. Especially when compared to the rising level of men developing the cancer and dying from it every year.
The idea of using hormonal therapy is a new one as well. Up until recently, the go-to solution was simply relying on radiation, particularly around the pelvis. Hormonal therapy was taught up as a way to possibly reduce the level of cancer clumps that spread throughout the body, thus reducing the speed in which it regenerates after it’s treated.
Of course this treatment isn’t perfect. The effects of bicalutamide can still cause trouble for the men who are tested with it, not just that but applying it on everyone also wouldn’t be a good idea. Doctors think that it would be better to apply it on younger men who will have longer life spans. At the same time there have also been thoughts of using Lupron, another hormone-blocking drug with less side effects and that could possible give a stronger result than bicalutamide.
These tests could have huge developments in the field of medicine of course, and could go a long way in improving the quality of life in others, with more testing of at least. This just goes to show some of the more amazing aspects of medicine.
Photo Credits: UPI, Harvard Pro State Knowledge, Genki