Radiation, hormone therapy increase survival for men with prostate cancer

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BOSTON – For men with locally advanced prostate cancer the addition of radiation treatment to anti-androgen hormone therapy reduces the risk of dying of prostate cancer by 50 percent, compared to those who have anti-androgen hormone treatment alone, according to a randomized study presented today at the 50th annual meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology's (ASTRO).

"This randomized trial is the first to show that men with locally advanced prostate cancer will survive substantially longer when radiation is added to their treatment plan," said Anders Widmark, MD, lead author of the study and a professor in radiation oncology at Umea University in Umea, Sweden.

In the study, anti-androgen hormone therapy was used to treat prostate cancer by blocking the stimulating effect of testosterone on the prostate cancer cells, to shrink the prostate cancer, and slow down the growth of prostate cancer. External beam radiation therapy delivered a series of daily radiation treatments to the prostate, the researchers said.

The study involved 880 patients with locally advanced prostate cancer who were randomly assigned to receive three months of intense hormone therapy that eliminated all androgens in the body. This was followed by continuous anti-androgen therapy, allowing the testosterone to come back or the same hormonal treatment, combined with radiation therapy.

According to the results, 8 percent of patients who underwent hormone therapy alone died of prostate cancer, compared to nine percent of those who had both hormone and radiation treatment. The quality of life at four years after treatment was similar between the two groups, with the exception of decreased social function in the patients who had the combined treatment, the researchers noted.