Sheffield research project could help in fight against prostate cancer

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A research study being carried out in Sheffield could be the first step towards exercise training being introduced as a new NHS treatment for prostate cancer.

The study, led by Sheffield Hallam University, will focus on 50 men who have the disease, but whose cancer has not spread.

Half of the men in the study will carry out two-and-a-half hours of aerobic exercise every week for 12 months - initially with the support of a qualified trainer and then with free access to local gyms.

The other half will be given information about the benefits of exercise for cancer patients but will have no supervised sessions.

Prostate cancer that has not spread is sometimes treated with surgery or radiotherapy. But this can have side-effects, so many men opt for regular monitoring instead.

If the participants can successfully keep up their exercise regime for 12 months, the study is expected to lead to a full-scale trial to look at the potential benefits of combining active surveillance and exercise for prostate cancer patients.

The trial – believed to be the first of its kind in the world – aims to test whether regular exercise can help keep prostate cancer from spreading to other parts of the body and could be a viable NHS treatment.

Study leader, Dr Liam Bourke, said: “Evidence suggests that men who are physically active after a prostate cancer diagnosis have better cancer survival than men who aren’t active. It’s not clear yet how this works, but it might be that exercise affects the way some genes regulate cancer cell growth and DNA repair.”