A randomised controlled trial of transcutaneous oestrogen patches versus LHRH agonists in prostate cancer

Are hormone patches a safe and effective treatment for prostate cancer?

What is this study about?

Prostate cancer needs the male hormone testosterone to grow. Therefore hormone therapy is usually used to lower the level of testosterone, which helps to control the growth of the cancer. Unfortunately, standard hormone treatment with injections or implants can cause a range of long-term side effects. They may cause bones to thin which might lead to them becoming fragile (osteoporosis) and more likely to break. They might also increase the chance of developing diabetes or heart disease.

An alternative way of giving hormone therapy is through the use of hormone patches. These patches, referred to as transdermal oestradiol, allow oestradiol (a type of hormone) to pass through the skin. Giving hormone therapy this way might be able to treat the cancer in a similar way as standard hormone therapy without causing some of these side effects.

The PATCH trial has already shown transdermal oestradiol can suppress testosterone as effectively as standard hormone therapy, while having a number of other potential benefits:

• It does not cause the bone to thin.
• Men treated with transdermal oestradiol generally reported better quality-of-life than those on hormone injections.
• Cholesterol and glucose levels increased in men on hormone injections but decreased in those on transdermal oestradiol.

The PATCH trial has been extended in order to look at whether transdermal oestradiol patches can control prostate cancer as well as standard hormone injections.

Type of study

Randomised trial

Contact details

Who is funding the study?

PATCH is funded by Cancer Research UK.

When is it taking place?

The study opened in 2006 and the last participant was enrolled in April 2020. Patient recruitment has now closed but follow-up of enrolled patients continues.

Where is it taking place?

Hospitals throughout the UK.

Who is included?

Men with locally advanced or metastatic prostate cancer, with no previous history of serious heart disease.