THURSDAY, March 10, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- A long term study finds radiation "seed therapy" used to fight prostate cancer achieved cure rates equal to, or better than, traditional surgery.
The treatment -- known to doctors as brachytherapy -- is a form of radiation therapy where surgeons implant rice-sized radioactive seeds inside the body.
The positive findings of the 12-year study "demonstrates that brachytherapy should be offered without bias to all men with early organ-confined (stage T1 and T2) prostate cancer," researcher Dr. Jerrold Sharkey, a professor of urology at the University of South Florida, said in a prepared statement.
The study, published in the current issue of Brachytherapy, reviewed data on more than 1,700 prostate cancer patients with non-metastatic disease treated between 1992 and 2004 at the Urology Health Center in Greater Tampa, Fla.
Of those patients, 1,380 (more than 80 percent) were treated with brachytherapy, while the rest received traditional prostatectomy surgery.
The study found that high-risk prostate cancer patients treated with the radioactive seeds had an 88 percent cure rate, compared with a 43 percent cure rate for those who had surgery. Intermediate-risk prostate cancer patients treated with brachytherapy had an 89 percent success rate, compared with 58 percent for those treated with surgery.
Low-risk patients treated with brachytherapy had a success rate of 99 percent vs. 97 percent for those who had surgery, the researchers found.
The seed procedure is steadily becoming more common: A recent Gallup poll of urologists found that the percentage of them performing brachytherapy in patients with prostate cancer rose from 16 percent in 1997 to 56 percent by 2003.
The American Cancer Society has more about prostate cancer.