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Combo therapy of prostatectomy plus radiotherapy may improve survival in prostate cancer

Press releases may be edited for formatting or style | September 26, 2018 Rad Oncology Radiation Therapy
(Philadelphia) - High-risk prostate cancer, that which has continued to grow but not yet metastasized, is commonly treated with combination therapies. Each method has pros and cons, but there is little clarity whether one might be more effective than the other. For the first time, researchers have shown that more patients live longer if treated with the combination of prostate removal plus radiation therapy. The research was published September 25th in the journal Cancer.

"There's a lot of debate about whether to remove the whole prostate and follow up with radiation therapy. Or, as a second option, to spare the prostate and treat it using radiation therapy plus hormone-blocking therapy," said senior author Grace Lu-Yao, PhD, Associate Director of Population Science at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center - Jefferson Health, one of only eight NCI-designated cancer centers nationwide with a prostate cancer program of excellence. "Our study suggests that removing the prostate followed by adjuvant radiotherapy is associated with greater overall survival in men with prostate cancer."

The risks of prostate removal, or prostatectomy, are well known and include higher chance of developing incontinence and erectile dysfunction. There are some risks associated with radiation treatment and hormone therapy, but they are less common, and are typically thought to have a lower impact on quality of life. "Prostatectomy is an unpopular treatment," said Lu-Yao. "Our study showed that only six percent of men with high-risk cancer were treated with it." It's not just the risk of side effects.For some men, especially those who are not fit enough for the surgery, prostatectomy is not an option. However, this may be an option for some patients to reconsider."

In the largest population-based retrospective study to date, Dr. Lu-Yao and colleagues examined the records of 13,856 men in the Medicare-SEER registry diagnosed with locally advanced prostate cancer -- cancer growth that had not yet metastasized to distant sites in the body. Dr. Lu-Yao and colleagues looked at the patients who were treated either with prostatectomy plus adjuvant radiation as one group, and compared them to another group who were treated with radiation therapy plus hormone-blocking therapy. They matched the comparison groups by age, race and co-morbidity to control for factors that may influence patient outcomes, and analyzed which group did better 10 to 15 years after their procedures.

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