October 6, 2008
One Jab Breakthrough for Testicular Cancer
By LYNDSAY MOSS HEALTH CORRESPONDENT
A COMMON form of testicular cancer can be cured with a single jab of chemotherapy, researchers revealed yesterday.Carboplatin - currently often used to treat ovarian and lung cancer - could replace the need for radiotherapy in men with early- stage seminoma.
Experts say the drug is a "safer cure" for the cancer, with fewer long-term health risks.
Up to 45 per cent of testicular cancers are classed as early- stage seminoma, amounting to between 780 and 880 cases in the UK each year.
In the largest ever trial involving this form of the disease, a single carboplatin injection was used to treat 573 patients with early-stage seminoma.
The results were compared with 904 men given two or three weeks of daily radiotherapy - the current standard treatment.
Those patients given carboplatin experienced fewer side-effects and were able to get back to their normal lives quicker than the men on radiotherapy.
Of the 573 patients given carboplatin, only 5 per cent relapsed - but none of the men died from their cancer following further treatment.
Men with seminomas usually have the testicle removed where the cancer occurred. In one in 20 cases, the other testicle also develops cancer. Those treated with carboplatin were less likely to develop cancer in the other testicle.
Only two out of 573 developed cancer in the other testicle, compared with 15 out of 904 patients treated with radiotherapy.
Side-effects of radiotherapy can include sickness and tiredness in the short term, with more serious long-term problems such as swelling and fibrosis, when tissue becomes less stretchy due to the radiation.
Dr Ben Mead, an honorary senior lecturer in medical oncology at the University of Southampton's School of Medicine, who presented the study, said: "Giving patients a carboplatin injection rather than radiotherapy is less unpleasant with fewer long-term risks."
Professor Peter Johnson, Cancer Research UK's chief clinician, said seminoma was a "great success story for the field of cancer research".
"This trial now shows that chemotherapy can cure early stage seminoma, so that men diagnosed with the disease can be successfully treated with fewer side-effects."
Sally Stenning, from the Medical Research Council's clinical trials unit, which ran the trial, said: "Testicular cancer caught early is now one of the most curable forms of cancer."
The results of the study are due to be presented today at the National Cancer Research Institute's cancer conference in Birmingham.
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