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Results of the MRC RT01 trial: high dose radiotherapy benefits patients with prostate cancer

08 May 2007

The MRC RT01 trial has found that a higher dose of radiotherapy to treat patients with prostate cancer improves cancer control and reduces the need for salvage treatment compared with the results usually obtained with a standard dose of radiotherapy.

A higher dose of radiotherapy to treat patients with prostate cancer improves cancer control and reduces the need for salvage treatment compared with the results usually obtained with a standard dose of radiotherapy.

These are the findings of the MRC RT01 trial, run from the MRC Clinical Trials Unit, London. The trial tested whether new radiotherapy techniques could be used to safely administer higher doses of radiotherapy to the tumour and so better control the disease.

"The trial is important in emphasising the advantage of higher dose radiotherapy but also the need to continue to improve radiation techniques", said David Dearnaley, the Chief Investigator of the trial, from the Institute of Cancer Research and Royal Marsden Hospitals, Sutton, UK.

The trial recruited 843 men with localised prostate cancer between 1998 and 2001. They were randomly allocated to receive either the standard dose of radiotherapy (64 Gray over 32 fractions over 6.5 weeks) or an escalated dose of radiotherapy (74 Gray over 37 fractions over 7.5 weeks). David Dearnaley explained, "the dose increase was made possible by using a new more precise radiation treatment method called conformal radiotherapy".

The researchers found that the high dose of radiotherapy helped prevent the recurrence of prostate cancer (rising PSA) and reduced the need for additional hormone treatment (androgen suppression treatment). However, the higher radiation dose did increase the risk of side-effects to the bowel.

Follow-up of patients for long-term outcomes such as metastases will continue.

The results of MRC RT01 were published online in The Lancet Oncology on Friday 4 May 2007 at www.thelancet.com/eop (DOI:10.1016/S1470-2045(07)70143-2) and the print version will follow in June 2007.

Press enquiries: pressoffice@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk
Patient enquiries: via usual doctor
Other enquiries: rt01@ctu.mrc.ac.uk