News Release 

Men can be spared radiotherapy after surgery

Largest ever trial in postoperative prostate cancer patients confirms that men can be spared radiotherapy after surgery

The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust

Men with prostate cancer can be spared radiotherapy after surgery, according to late breaking results from a study led by The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.

These findings, from the largest ever trial of postoperative radiotherapy in prostate cancer, are being presented today (Friday 27 September) at the 2019 ESMO Annual Meeting in Barcelona, Spain.

Answering a longstanding question about whether the benefits of radiotherapy after surgery outweigh the side effects, the trial results found no difference in disease recurrence at five years between men who routinely had radiotherapy shortly after surgery and men who had radiotherapy later, if the cancer came back.

The RADICALS-RT trial, which was run through the MRC Clinical Trials Unit at University College London, enrolled 1,396 patients after surgery for prostate cancer from the UK, Denmark, Canada, and Ireland. Men were randomly allocated to postoperative radiotherapy or the standard approach of observation only, with radiotherapy kept as an option if the disease recurred.

At a median follow-up of five years, progression free survival was 85% in the radiotherapy group and 88% in the standard care group.

Chief Investigator Professor Chris Parker, Consultant Clinical Oncologist at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and Professor in Prostate Oncology at the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), said:

"The results from this trial indicate that postoperative radiotherapy in prostate cancer patients is equally effective whether it is given to all men shortly after surgery or only given later to those men with recurrent disease. There is a strong case now that observation should be the standard approach after surgery, and that radiotherapy should be used if the cancer comes back.

"This is good news for future patients as it means that many men will avoid the adverse side-effects of radiotherapy which can include urinary incontinence. This is a potential complication after surgery alone, but the risk is increased if radiotherapy is used as well."

The data presented from the RADICALS-RT trial is from a five year follow up looking at disease reoccurrence. The intention in the long run is to see if postoperative radiotherapy has an effect on the development of secondary tumours.

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The RADICALS-RT trial is funded by Cancer Research UK.

Notes to Editors

For further information please contact Francesca Vitale, Senior PR & Communications Officer at The Royal Marsden on Francesca.Vitale@rmh.nhs.uk or 0207 808 2605

'Timing of radiotherapy (RT) after radical prostatectomy (RP): first results from the RADICALS RT randomised controlled trial (RCT)'

About The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust

The Royal Marsden opened its doors in 1851 as the world's first hospital dedicated to cancer diagnosis, treatment, research and education.

Today, together with its academic partner, The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), it is the largest and most comprehensive cancer centre in Europe seeing and treating over 55,000 NHS and private patients every year. It is a centre of excellence with an international reputation for ground-breaking research and pioneering the very latest in cancer treatments and technologies.

The Royal Marsden, with the ICR, is the only National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre for Cancer. This supports pioneering research work carried out over a number of different cancer themes.

The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity raises money solely to support The Royal Marsden, a world-leading cancer centre. It ensures Royal Marsden nurses, doctors and research teams can provide the very best care and develop life-saving treatments, which are used across the UK and around the world.

From funding state-of-the-art equipment and ground-breaking research, to creating the very best patient environments, The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity will never stop looking for ways to improve the lives of people affected by cancer.

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