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New research by the University of New South Wales (UNSW), presented at the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia’s (COSA) Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM) found that increased use of radiation therapy for prostate cancer patients could save lives. Up to 41 early deaths in NSW alone could be prevented each year. This result comes from data collected from nearly 20,000 prostate cancer patients in the state.

Researchers analysed how many patients received radiation therapy. They also considered recommendations for the use of radiation therapy based on evidence-based guidelines, and assessed how many additional patients would have benefitted from the treatment if the recommendations were followed.

The research has the potential to save the lives of patients requiring treatment. It also showed that appropriate use of radiation therapy could prevent at least 466 instances of local failure (referring to cases where treatment fails to stop a local tumour) each year.

It was found that only approximately 23 per cent of NSW prostate cancer patients received radiation treatment. This is less than half the optimal uptake, which sits at a rate of 52 per cent. This indicates that the treatment option is not always discussed with, or offered to patients.

Susan Goode, CEO at TROG Cancer Research, said this is a positive step in the right direction.

“If everyone listens to research and follows the guidelines more consistently it will improve outcomes. Patients need to be offered the opportunity of radiation therapy – it could be the solution that saves their lives.”

Associate Professor Nick Pavlakis, President of the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia, welcomed the latest research and said it highlighted important opportunities to improve treatment for Australia’s most common cancer.

“This research shows that referring clinicians need to consider radiation therapy as a proven option for their patients with appropriately selected prostate cancer as per guideline recommendations. We also need to educate patients on the potential benefits of radiation therapy so that they are aware of this treatment option when making decisions on choice of therapy.”

Targeting Cancer provides a useful resource for patients and professionals alike to access information on radiation therapy as an effective, safe and sophisticated treatment for cancer. Find out more by clicking here.

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