July 12, 1999

Kristine Carter
Research Coordinator, LHSC

Nancy Lawrence
Media Relations, LHSC
519-685-8500, ext. 77642


New Prostate Cancer Research Study being launched at London Health Sciences Centre

(LONDON, Ontario) Researchers at the London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC), the London Regional Cancer Centre (LRCC), and Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto are looking for patients who have been recently diagnosed with stage T3 prostate cancer (locally advanced disease) to participate in a new research study.

"Locally advanced prostate cancer is typically treated with radiation therapy as the standard treatment of choice. Radiation techniques are constantly improving with newer technology. Some patients deemed unsuitable for radiation therapy may be treated with hormone therapy. However, this approach only provides temporary control of the cancer," says Dr. Joseph Chin, Chief, Division of Urology, LHSC.

Individuals enrolled in the new study would receive either radiation or cryosurgery as primary therapy (see attached Fact Sheet for more information). There is a 50 per cent chance of receiving either treatment. Radiation treatments last for six-and-a-half weeks on a Monday to Friday basis with each appointment lasting approximately 45 minutes. Once a person has received radiation therapy to the prostate region, it cannot safely be repeated if the cancer returns. Cryosurgery requires a general anaesthetic and approximate three day hospital stay. The use of 3D ultrasound with cryotherapy helps avoid the destruction of nearby healthy tissues. Furthermore, it is a procedure which usually can be safely repeated, as a second cryosurgery treatment or following radiation if the cancer returns. Both groups of patients will receive hormone therapy for a total of six months, starting three months prior to the start of cryoablation or radiation. The rationale is to shrink the prostate and the cancer so that the target for either treatment will be smaller and more easily treated.

"Randomized clinical trials are needed to establish the long-term efficacy and safety of cryosurgery," says Dr. Chin. "Although long-term survival figures are not yet available, follow-up biopsy results of three to four years are now emerging. Most series of results are favourable, with negative biopsy rates and biochemical cancer control exceeding 80 per cent."

To determine if you are a candidate for this study, contact The Prostate Resource Centre at London Health Sciences Centre, Westminster Campus at (519) 685-8448.

Prostate cancer is now the leading cause of cancer affecting Canadian men. One in nine men will develop prostate cancer at some point in their lives, reports the Canadian Cancer Society. In Canada, more than 16,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year.

The cause of prostate cancer is unknown, and most often affects men over the age of 50. The prostate gland is a sex organ located at the base of the male urinary bladder, surrounding the urethra. It secretes a substance that makes up part of the fluid that transports sperm outside the body. Prostate cancer typically produces no symptoms and is diagnosed with a transrectal ultrasound and biopsy of the prostate. A suspicious rectal exam and elevated P.S.A. level would be an indication of this.

Symptoms of prostate cancer in a more advanced stage include difficulty with urination, frequency, occasional blood in the urine, and lower back or pelvic pain. When the cancer is confined to the prostate gland, the cure rate is high, so regular physical examinations are important. New methods of treatment offer hope, and the prognosis for men with prostate cancer is improving.