A new clinical trial has found that in men with testicular cancer, half the amount of chemotherapy that is currently used could just as effectively prevent the disease from coming back.
The trial, which was led by The Institute of Cancer Research, London and University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, demonstrated that giving men one cycle of chemotherapy was as effective at preventing men’s testicular cancer from coming back as the two cycles used as standard.
Also, lowering the overall exposure to chemotherapy reduced the debilitating side effects which can have a lifelong impact on patients’ health.
As a result of the successful findings, which were published in the journal European Urology, the trial has already begun to change clinical practice, reducing the number of hospital admissions, and lowering the costs of treatment.
Patients were given one three-week cycle of a chemotherapy known as BEP – a combination of the drugs bleomycin, etoposide and the platinum agent cisplatin.
The researchers then looked at the percentage of men whose testicular cancer returned within two years of being treated with one cycle of chemotherapy, and compared these relapse rates with established data from previous studies in patients who were given two cycles.
As a result, only three men (1.3%) saw their testicular cancer return after finishing treatment – a nearly identical rate to previous studies using two cycles of BEP chemotherapy.
Further, 41% of men receiving one cycle of chemotherapy experienced one or more serious side effects while receiving treatment, such as an increased risk of infection, sepsis or vomiting. But only a small number – six patients, or 2.6% – experienced long-term side effects such as damage to their hearing.
Fortunately, reducing the number of cycles and the dosage of chemotherapy for testicular cancer could also “save the NHS money, and free up valuable hospital time and resources” explained Professor Robert Huddart, Professor of Urological Cancer at The Institute of Cancer Research.
Testicular cancer is the most common cancer affecting young men, with many patients being diagnosed in their twenties or thirties.