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Wednesday, 1 May, 2002, 12:22 GMT 13:22 UK
Double attack on bladder cancer
Radiotherapy is part of the strategy against the cancer
A trial involving bladder cancer patients is being launched to see if a new treatment combination can tip the scales in their favour.

Doctors believe that giving radiotherapy alongside chemotherapy could prove more effective than giving them individually.

Previously, it was feared that doing this would prove too hard for the patient to bear - but improvements in radiotherapy have made them think again.

Bladder cancer is one of the most common cancers in the UK, affecting approximately 12,000 people a year.

Survival rates are 65% over five years - although many patients do suffer recurrence of their illness.

Hospitals around the country are to take part in the trial, funded by the charity Cancer Research UK.

Being able to give the radiotherapy when cancer cells are already sensitive as a result of the chemotherapy should have a cumulative effect

Dr Nick James, Cancer Research UK
One of the chief investigators, Dr Robert Huddart, from the Institute of Cancer Research in London, said: "One of the most important aspects of this trial is that we will be seeing whether we can improve the quality of life of bladder cancer patients being treated by radiotherapy."

The advantage of giving radiotherapy directly after chemotherapy is that persisting cancer cells have already been weakened by the drugs and are more vulnerable to the radiation.

Dr Nick James, from Cancer Research UK, added: "Being able to give the radiotherapy when cancer cells are already sensitive as a result of the chemotherapy should have a cumulative effect and hopefully produce better survival and reduce the need for surgery to remove the bladder.

Focused rays

"The trial is significant because it is the first time that different radiotherapy planning techniques have been compared in bladder cancer in order to see if toxicity can be reduced without affecting tumour control rates."

Modern radiotherapy can be focused on precise areas of the body, cutting "collateral damage" to surrounding unaffected tissue.

Sir Paul Nurse, joint director general of Cancer Research UK said: "Bladder cancer is the fifth most common cancer in the UK and it is vital to find better ways of treating patients who are affected by the disease."

See also:

17 Mar 00 | C-D
Bladder cancer
15 Feb 02 | Boston 2002
Lab-built bladders on the way
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