Galway University Hospitals in radical international study on prostate cancer treatment

A leading surgeon at Galway University Hospitals (GUH ), in conjunction with a research team at the HRB Clinical Research Facility, NUI Galway is aiming to improve survival rates in prostate cancer, the most common cancer amongst Irish men.

Mr Garrett Durkan, a consultant urological surgeon, is running a clinical trial to look at the potential benefits of radiotherapy and hormone therapy for men who have had radical surgery for aggressive prostate cancer. The study will also involve researchers at the Medical Research Council in the UK and the National Cancer Institute of Canada and more than 4,000 patients in Galway, UK, and Canada will be enrolled in the study.

There are approximately 3,000 new cases of prostate cancer diagnosed per year and 550 men die annually from the disease in Ireland. There has been a significant increase in the incidence of prostate cancer in recent years which may be due to improved screening, using a simple blood test known as Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA ), and also an ageing population.

Surgery is a first line treatment option for early stage prostate cancer and radiotherapy combined with hormone therapy is given if the cancer is more advanced.

Mr Garrett Durkan, who will be working closely with his colleagues in urology and radiotherapy at GUH and the Galway Clinic on the study says: “Recent evidence suggests there may be an improved survival benefit for certain men to have radiotherapy following surgery. However, it is still unclear if it is better to give radiotherapy at an early stage after surgery or to wait until the PSA test indicates a possible relapse; also it remains uncertain whether radiotherapy in this setting should be given with or without hormone therapy. The aim of our study is to ascertain the optimal management strategy.

“The highest incidence of prostate cancer in Ireland is in the West; and at Galway University Hospitals our catchment area extends from Limerick to Letterkenny. This study will help us determine the best treatment strategy for men undergoing surgery for high-risk prostate cancer. This is an exciting and timely development aimed at improving survival in sufferers of this common cancer.”

The RADICALS (Radiotherapy and Androgen Deprivation In Combination After Local Surgery ) study will look at the timing of radiotherapy and the duration of hormone therapy in patients after surgery. Patients who participate will have follow-up appointments over 15 years to determine the outcome. The study is being managed locally through the research team at the HRB Clinical Research Facility, NUI Galway.


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