Prospective randomised trial comparing diethylstilboestrol and flutamide in the treatment of hormone relapsed prostate cancer


Nick Burns-Cox mb chb md frcs, The Old Garage, The Square, Wickham, Hampshire PO17 5JW, England. Email:


Background: Patients with hormone relapsed prostate cancer (HRPC) are often treated with flutamide or diethylstilboestrol. However, which of these two options is the best treatment for HRPC remains unclear.

Methods: We carried out a prospective study to determine and compare the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) response and survival in patients with hormone relapsed prostate cancer (HRPC), all of whom had previously shown a good response to medical or surgical castration. The patients were randomised to treatment with diethylstilboestrol (DES) and aspirin, or the antiandrogen flutamide. In addition, quality of life was determined by interview and questionnaire.

Results: Twenty-eight patients were randomised for treatment options.There was a significantly greater fall in the PSA (65% vs 35%; P = 0.034) after treatment with diethylstilboestrol compared to treatment with flutamide. Median survival also rose after treatment with diethylstilboestrol (18 months) compared to flutamide (11 months), but this difference did not reach statistical significance. There was no difference in the quality of life parameters between the two groups. There were no cardiovascular complications in the stilboestrol group.

Conclusions: In HRPC, treatment with stilboestrol is associated with a greater PSA fall and an increase in median survival when compared to flutamide treatment.