High-Tech Radiation Boosts Prostate Cancer Survival

The technique delivers focused, high-powered beams to the tumor site

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FRIDAY, Oct. 6, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Most prostate cancer patients treated with high-dose, intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) were still alive and cancer-free an average of eight years after treatment, according to a large new study.

The study -- the first to describe long-term outcomes for prostate cancer patients treated with IMRT -- was conducted by a team from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City and is published in the October issue of the Journal of Urology.

Before treatment, researchers divided 561 patients into three groups based on their cancer prognosis: favorable, intermediate and unfavorable.

An average of eight years after IMRT, 89 percent of men in the favorable group were still alive, along with 78 percent of those in the intermediate group, and 67 percent of those in the unfavorable group.

Of the men who were potent before IMRT, nearly half (49 percent) developed erectile dysfunction.

IMRT is an improved form of what's known as "three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy." It uses enhanced planning-treatment software that more precisely targets the prostate. This allows the beam of radiation to deliver a high dose to the tumor, while sparing the nearby bladder and rectum from being exposed to these higher amounts of radiation.

"Our results suggest that IMRT should be the treatment of choice for delivering high-dose, external beam radiotherapy for patients with localized prostate cancer," Dr. Michael J. Zelefsky, chief of the brachytherapy service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, said in a prepared statement.

"This study confirms that we can improve patients' quality of life by reducing the side effects of radiotherapy, while maintaining disease-free survival," he said. "However, there is still room for improvement. We are incorporating image-guided approaches that may continue the excellent tumor control but further limit the area we are irradiating and reduce side effects."

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about prostate cancer treatments.

SOURCE: Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, news release, Sept. 27, 2006

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