Wales

Cardiff professor honoured for prostate cancer research

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Media captionProf Malcolm Mason was recognised for his research in combining radiotherapy and hormone therapy

A Cardiff University professor whose pioneering research helped change the way prostate cancer is treated has been recognised with a major scientific award.

Prof Malcolm Mason was recognised for his research in combining radiotherapy and hormone therapy.

He thanked 1,025 men, mostly from the UK and Canada, who took part in a trial over 10 years.

It showed the combined treatment significantly improved survival rates.

In recognition of his work, Prof Mason, the head of Cardiff University's Institute of Cancer and Genetics at the School of Medicine, was presented with the William Farr Medal at a dinner in London on Thursday.

He said: "Prostate cancer accounts for 10,000 male deaths in the UK each year and is the second most common cause of cancer death in men, after lung cancer.

Still alive

"The trial was conducted because it was unknown whether radiotherapy would help to extend the lives of men with prostate cancer and reduce their chances of dying from their cancer."

What the trial proved, however, was that by providing radiotherapy in addition to hormone therapy, 74% of the men who took part in the trial were still alive after seven years, compared with 66% who did not have radiotherapy.

All the men who took part in the randomised controlled trial - known in the UK as PR07 - between 1995 and 2005 had had "locally advanced" prostate cancer diagnosed, which had grown outside the surface of the prostate but had not spread further.

Half the group were treated with hormone therapy, a standard form of drug treatment, and the other half with a combination of the same hormone therapy and an additional course of radiotherapy.

The researchers also found that those who received radiotherapy were about half as likely to die of their prostate cancer.

'Pleasing'

Prof Mason is also director of the Wales Cancer Bank, based at Velindre Hospital in Cardiff.

The centre, one of the foremost of its kind in the world, has revolutionised opportunities for cancer research, collecting blood and tissue samples from thousands in Wales whether suffering from cancer or with a potential cancer diagnosis.

Of his award, the professor said: "It's always pleasing to be recognised but in reality this award goes to all the men who took part in this trial, which has shown radiotherapy to be so worthwhile for patients with the type of prostate cancer we call 'locally advanced' .

"This is only just the start - the next stage will be to ensure that the results of this trial are implemented into treatment recommendations as quickly as possible," he added.

Cardiff University vice-chancellor Prof Colin Riordan congratulated Prof Mason on his "richly deserved award", instituted by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries.

"By answering the important question of whether prostate cancer patients would benefit from radiotherapy, Prof Mason has helped alter the way prostate cancer is treated, making sure that treatment decisions are based on the best possible evidence."

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