AI could spare thousands of men with prostate cancer unnecessary treatment and side-effects by spotting those would not benefit from hormone therapy
- AI looks at biological patterns in cancer cells to see if hormone therapy needed
- Doctors now know hormone therapy which has side effects only helps some men
- AI says 60 per cent of those prescribed hormone therapy should not be given it
Advances in AI could spare thousands of men unnecessary treatment and side effects.
Men with prostate cancer which has an intermediate risk of spreading when they are given radiotherapy are currently offered six months to three years of hormone therapy at the same time.
But AI, which looks for biological patterns in the cancer cells taken from individual men’s biopsies at the point of diagnosis, can identify those who would not benefit from hormone therapy.
This could save men from the side effects of hormone therapy including fatigue, hot flushes, reduced muscle strength, weight gain around the waist and changes to their sex life such as a low libido or problems getting an erection.
Doctors now know hormone therapy, which starves tumours of the male sex hormones which fuel them, only helps some men.
The AI suggests 60 per cent of those currently prescribed hormone therapy should not be given it
Although side effects vary and can improve over time, and even though men can get help to cope, many still struggle.
The AI suggests 60 per cent of those currently prescribed hormone therapy should not be given it.
The radiotherapy alone is enough to cure these men, without adding to the treatment they have to endure and costing the NHS extra money.
The AI tool being used to spare men with localised prostate cancer from having hormone therapy has been developed by a US-based company called ArteraAI and is being backed by Prostate Cancer UK.
Prostate Cancer UK’s director of research, Dr Matthew Hobbs, said: ‘This tool could make a huge difference for men.
‘We know that the side effects that come with hormone therapy – a treatment that completely suppresses testosterone – are varied, extremely difficult to live with, and can last a very long time even after treatment finishes.
The AI tool being used to spare men with localised prostate cancer from having hormone therapy has been developed by a US-based company called ArteraAI and is being backed by Prostate Cancer UK
‘Men with prostate cancer regularly tell us about the extremely negative impact this treatment has on their quality of life. For men who need it, hormone therapy is a life-saving treatment, and the trade-off is worth it, but this tool tells us that currently many thousands of men are suffering those side effects needlessly.
‘Implementing this tool across the NHS could significantly reduce the harm that prostate cancer causes.
‘The results we have seen are extraordinarily impressive and, being based on multiple high-quality academic trials with long follow-up, are also robust and believable.
‘We know that the company is keen to bring this tool to the NHS and hope that individual NHS trusts, as well as system-wide decision makers will work with them to remove any barriers and deliver this benefit for men as quickly as possible.’