ASTRO: Shorter treatment for prostate cancer proves effective

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A two-and-a-half week shorter radiation treatment for prostate cancer is as effective as a traditional seven-week treatment, according to results of a study presented Thursday at the 2009 American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) conference in Chicago.

"The study shows that hypofractionated radiation could potentially be used in place of standard radiation therapy for intermediate- and high-risk prostate cancer patients, but the results are still preliminary," said the study's lead author, Alan Pollack, MD, a radiation oncologist at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Miami.

The trial studied 303 men with intermediate-and high-risk prostate cancer. Researchers found that intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) that fits the prostate more precisely can be given in higher doses without producing significant changes to toxicity levels. Instead of receiving 38 treatments of standard IMRT, patients could receive 26 treatments with the same success, according to the study.

Over a four-month span, 34 of 200 men who were at intermediate-risk received short-term hormone treatments, while 102 of 103 high-risk patients received treatment over a longer span of 25 months.

Thirty-nine months after treatment, when comparing the 14 percent of men who received the shorter five-week session with the 19 percent who underwent the standard 38 treatments, results showed no considerable differentiation in cancer recurrence.

“The shorter course of treatment is more convenient, would reduce healthcare costs and appears just as effective,” said Pollack. "Although these are significant findings, longer follow-up is needed and a final analysis is planned for 2011."