Combining hormones with external, internal radiation helps high risk prostate cancer patients

12/29/04

December 29, 2004 Prostate cancer patients with high risk cancers who are treated with both internal and external radiation and hormone treatment have a better chance of beating the disease than patients treated with radiation alone, according to a new study published in the January 1, 2005, issue of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology*Biology*Physics, the official journal of ASTRO, the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology.

Since the late 1980s, doctors have been increasingly using internal radiation, also called radioactive seed implants or brachytherapy, to cure prostate cancer. For patients with higher risk prostate cancers defined as having at least two of the following three: a high Gleason score, a high PSA score and/or an advanced stage doctors have been adding hormone therapy and external beam radiation therapy to the treatment plan to try to increase survival rates. In this study, doctors studied nearly 200 men with high risk prostate cancer over eight years to see if adding external beam radiation and hormone therapy to brachytherapy did indeed increase disease-free survival rates.

Of the participating patients, 107 men were treated with external beam radiation therapy combined with seed implants. Another 69 patients received hormone therapy in addition to the seed implants and external beam radiation. After eight years, nearly 94 percent of the men who had hormone therapy in addition to the two types of radiation had no evidence of their prostate cancer, compared with 84 percent of the men who only had seed implants and external beam radiation therapy.

"This is an exciting study because it shows that adding hormone treatment and external beam radiation therapy to seed implants does indeed help men with high risk prostate cancer to live longer without the cancer returning," said Gregory S. Merrick, M.D., lead author of the study and a radiation oncologist at Schiffler Cancer Center in Wheeling, W.Va..

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