Men with incurable prostate cancer may become a lifeline with a new approach that “doubles” radiation therapy.
During the procedure, beams of tumor projection are fired at the prostate while injections of a radioactive substance target cancer cells that have spread to the bones.
One study found that it halved the rate at which the disease progressed, extending life by at least six months. Many patients survived much longer.
A patient in the trial, David Livingstone, 68, was diagnosed in 2016 with prostate cancer that had spread to his spine. He was given six months to live – but the retired photographer from Richhill, County Armagh is still alive five years later. He said: “Since my diagnosis I have seen my two daughters get married and now I have two wonderful grandchildren. Without this treatment, I would be long gone.
Go strong: David Livingstone, 68, was given six months to live in 2016 after being diagnosed with prostate cancer that had spread to his spine
Weird science: how milk keeps you from losing your voice
It could be the only doctor condition that one can wish on an annoying partner: sudden silence.
But this strange symptom may be a sign of nutrient deficiency, as a 29-year-old Dutchman discovered last year. Tests carried out at the University Medical Center in Amsterdam revealed that he suffered from a severe deficiency of calcium, which is found in milk and cheese. It had caused temporary paralysis of his throat muscles and voice box.
The man was treated with intravenous calcium, followed by supplements, and within two months his voice returned.
Joe O’Sullivan, professor of radiation oncology at Queen’s University Belfast and lead investigator of the trial, said: “We found that using these treatments early at the same time did not cause any effects. secondary more serious and slowed the progression of the cancer. “
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in the UK and will affect one in eight Britons in their lifetime.
Almost 50,000 men are diagnosed each year – during the same period, 11,000 will die from it.
Almost eight in ten men survive the disease, and many are cured with surgery and chemotherapy alone, but in a minority it can be fatal due to how quickly it spreads to other parts of the body.
Researchers have made huge strides in fighting the disease with new drugs, but Professor O’Sullivan believes radiation therapy, in which beams of energy target cancer cells, remains the most effective tool for fight it.
Patients normally undergo eight weeks of standard radiation therapy in addition to hormone therapy – a drug that inhibits the body’s production of testosterone that can fuel the growth of prostate cancer.
If this fails, then patients could be offered a variety of other more specialized treatments.
During the trial at Queen’s University, doctors studied the benefits of immediately offering patients whose prostate cancer has spread to the bones two specialized forms of radiation therapy in addition to hormone therapy. One, volumetric modulating arc therapy, specifically targets the prostate. The other, radium 223, is an intravenous drug that contains radioactive material that is absorbed by the bones, which makes it effective in fighting tumors that have spread there.
Professor O’Sullivan said: “This is the first time that the effect of these two treatments together has been studied. But we thought, assembled and used earlier, that they would have a big impact. ‘
Professor Joe O’Sullivan believes radiation therapy, in which beams of energy target cancer cells, remains the most effective tool in the fight against prostate cancer (file photo)
Your amazing body
Stomach acid, which breaks down everything you eat so that it can be absorbed by the body, is strong enough to dissolve razor blades, according to a US study.
Doctors at Meridia Huron Hospital in Ohio, who often had to deal with emergency patients who had swallowed various dangerous objects, tested the strength of stomach acid by dipping alloy razor blades into it. ‘steel.
After only two hours, they were partially dissolved.
After 24 hours, only a third of the razor blade remains could be detected.
To conduct the trial, 30 patients aged 40 to 80 who had not responded to chemotherapy received the combination of radiotherapy and hormone therapy.
The study found that, on average, patients spent 22 months before their cancer began to progress, more than double the ten-month average for patients with advanced prostate cancer. Professor O’Sullivan says this translates to a survival time of around six months.
In 2016, Mr. Livingstone was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer after complaining of back pain. Tests and blood tests showed it had spread to his spine. He said: “I had always had back pain so I wasn’t expecting it.”
He was referred to Professor O’Sullivan, and shortly after completing chemotherapy, he was placed on combined radiation therapy.
He went to the hospital every day for eight weeks for a ten-minute volumetrically modulated arc therapy session.
Every four weeks for six months, he was also injected with radium 223.
Soon after, tests showed that Mr. Livingstone’s cancer was on the decline. He said: “The cancer in my spine was almost gone while my prostate cancer was no longer growing.”
Although he suffered from nausea and fatigue, he said the side effects were never extreme.
Professor O’Sullivan said there was a strong case for making the wetsuit standard practice on the NHS.
“Although this is by no means a cure, we are showing progress in lengthening the lives of patients,” he added.