Treatment Delay for Prostate Cancer Doesn't Hurt Outcome

Those who had to wait up to three months for radiation no worse off, study finds

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TUESDAY, Oct. 5, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Men with prostate cancer who have to wait up to three months after diagnosis to receive external-beam radiation therapy don't have worse outcomes than men who start treatment earlier, says a Fox Chase Cancer Center study.

The study included 1,498 men with prostate cancer who were treated with external-beam radiation therapy between 1981 and 2001. The median follow-up was 57 months, with a minimum of two years.

"Our findings show that a delay, within the limits of this study, from the time of diagnosis to the start of treatment with external-beam radiation does not alter ultimate clinical outcome," study author Stephen F. Andrews, chief resident in the Fox Chase radiation oncology department, said in a prepared statement.

"Another important finding here is that the use of hormone therapy during the treatment delay does not affect outcome and should be avoided in men with favorable risk factors," Andrews said.

Often, if a delay in prostate cancer treatment is expected, doctors will prescribe hormone therapy for patients.

The study was presented Oct. 5 at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology annual meeting in Atlanta.

Delays in prostate cancer treatment can be caused by a number of factors, including: the belief among many doctors that prostate cancer is slow-growing; consideration of multiple treatment options and opinions; labor-intensive treatment planning; and long wait times to begin treatment.

"Obviously, definitive treatment for prostate cancer should begin as soon as possible after diagnosis. However, patients and physicians can use this information to alleviate concerns over delaying treatment in order to make a well-informed treatment decision," Andrews said.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about prostate cancer.

SOURCE: Fox Chase Cancer Center, news release, Oct. 5, 2004

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