TIME Cancer

Early Chemo May Help Men With Prostate Cancer Live Longer, Study Says

New research suggests men with metastized prostate cancer may benefit from having chemotherapy earlier than usually recommended

Men diagnosed with prostate cancer will often put off chemotherapy, with their doctor’s approval. But new research suggests that men who get chemotherapy early on may actually live longer.

Typically, men with prostate cancer will start their treatment with simply active surveillance of their tumors, before starting hormone therapy. Men will undergo chemotherapy only when their tumors become resistant to hormone therapy. But a recent clinical trial found that men treated early with chemotherapy lived longer than men who underwent the standard treatment.

The clinical trial randomized 790 men with recently diagnosed prostate cancer into two groups. One followed the standard treatment guidelines, and the other received chemo right away alongside their hormone therapy. The men who underwent chemotherapy lived over a year longer than the men on the standard treatment regime.

“We haven’t seen survival benefits like that for any therapy in prostate cancer,” said Dr. Michael J. Morris, an associate professor at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, who was uninvolved with the study but was chosen to comment on it at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the New York Times reports. The study was selected as one of the most impressive out of thousands of studies presented at the conference in Chicago.

The findings are still preliminary, but if proven, they could change clinical practice. However, the research focused on a specific population of men with prostate cancer that had either spread beyond the prostate, or had come back after initial treatment. Since screening catches prostate cancer early, not many men experience metastasized prostate cancer. One of the greatest challenges the researchers foresee is convincing men to choose chemotherapy first, especially if there are other common options.

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