July 14, 2011

Help For Early-Stage Prostate Cancer Patients

(Ivanhoe Newswire) "“ In 2010, more than 32,000 Americans died from prostate cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. Prostate cancer usually occurs in older men, and is found in the tissues of the prostate gland. Now, a new study has discovered that a combination of treatments could help early-stage prostate cancer patients.

Researchers have found that short-term hormone therapy, also known as androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), given in combination with radiation therapy for men with early-stage prostate cancer increases their chance of living, compared with those who only receive radiation therapy.

The researchers tested 1,979 patients at low and intermediate risk of prostate cancer progression from 1994 to 2001, and then followed their health statuses for more than nine years.

"This is by far the largest randomized trial in this area. It addressed the question that hadn't been addressed with any depth," William Shipley M.D., Radiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, and senior study author, told Ivanhoe.

All study participants had early, localized prostate cancer, and a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level of 20 ng per milliliter.  Male hormones called androgens, most commonly testosterone, fuel the growth of the prostate cancer cells. Therapy that decreases the body's level of androgens removes the strongest growth factor of prostate cancer cells.

The 10-year rate of overall survival was 62 percent among patients receiving radiotherapy plus short-term ADT, which was the combined-therapy group, as compared with 57 percent among patients receiving radiotherapy alone. The addition of short-term ADT was associated with a decrease in the 10-year disease-specific mortality from 8 percent to 4 percent. The findings show that adding short-term ADT to radiation therapy benefits intermediate-risk, but not low-risk patients with early-stage prostate cancer.

This study "served the public well because it is showing there is no indication for the need of this therapy in men with low-risk cancer. But in contrast, with the men that are showing up with intermediate-risk cancer, that it does seem to have an important contribution to their survival and reducing the number of men that die of prostate cancer," Dr. Shipley told Ivanhoe.

The authors noted that higher radiation doses and new treatment technology is being employed today and has demonstrated higher treatment efficacy which could potentially provide the same or greater benefits as the addition of short-term ADT.

SOURCE: New England Journal of Medicine, July 13, 2011.