Radiation After Prostate Cancer Surgery Boosts Survival

It reduces the chance of tumor recurrence, new study finds

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TUESDAY, Oct. 18, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Radiation therapy immediately after prostate surgery improves survival for advanced-stage prostate cancer patients.

That finding was presented Monday at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology annual meeting, in Denver.

The study included 473 men with advanced prostate cancer. After they had surgery to remove the prostate tumor, half the patients immediately started receiving radiation therapy while the other half were kept under observation.

The men who received the radiation therapy had a 25 percent reduced risk of cancer recurrence after five and 10 years, the study found. The radiation also improved overall survival and reduced the risk of cancer spreading to other parts of the body, but the differences between the two groups were not statistically significant.

"We have known for a long time that men who undergo surgery and are found to have cancer extending outside their prostate gland are at a very high risk for recurrence," Dr. Gregory Swanson, a radiation oncologist for the Genitourinary Committee of the Southwest Oncology Group, in San Antonio, said in a prepared statement. The group was the main sponsor of the study.

"To see a 25 percent reduction in recurrence of any cancer is considered a major breakthrough -- as cancer doctors, we should be quite impressed. Prostate cancer patients clearly deserve a discussion with their physician about whether adding a course of radiation after surgery is right for them, their cancer and their lifestyle," Swanson said.

Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer that strikes American men, other than skin cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates there will be about 232,100 new cases of the disease in the United States in 2005; about 30,000 men will die of the disease this year.

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men, second only to lung cancer. While one in six men will get prostate cancer during his lifetime, only one in 34 will die of the disease. The death rate for prostate cancer has been declining; one reason is earlier diagnosis, according to the cancer society.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about prostate cancer.

SOURCE: American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology, news release, Oct. 17, 2005

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