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Prostate Cancer Studies Break New Ground

by Lynn Shapiro, Writer | October 01, 2008

Anders Widmark, from Umea University in Umea Sweden, said that this trial is the first to show that men with locally advanced prostate cancer--cancer that has grown close to the border or outside the prostate gland to neighboring tissue--will survive substantially longer when radiation is added to their treatment plan.

The study involved 880 patients who were randomly assigned to receive three months of intense hormone therapy (temporary castration) combined with radiation therapy between February 1996 and December 2002.

Dr. Widmark found that 18 percent of patients who underwent hormone therapy alone died of prostate cancer during this time, compared to nine percent of those who had both hormone and radiation treatment.

Commenting on the Widmark study, Dr. Dorsoretz told DOTmed that unlike her study, "This study was focused on intermediate and high-risk patients.

What is more, she said that in the U.S., radiation therapy for prostate cancer patients is standard, so a study of this kind would never have been conducted.

She told DOTmed News that doctors in the U.S. began using radiation seed implants in the 1980s, but in Europe, the practice is still not widespread. She also noted that the virtue of the Swedish study is that was randomized.

A Third Study Looks at Wine

Meanwhile, a third study presented at the ASTRO meeting found that an antioxidant ingredient in red wine and fruit may protect people against radiation exposure.

Tests in mice showed that a substance called resveratrol, when altered using a compound called acetyl, could prevent some of the damage caused by radiation in a nuclear emergency, Dr. Joel Greenberger, a radiation oncologist at Johns Hopkins University, told physicians at the meeting.

"Currently there are no drugs on the market that protect against or counteract radiation exposure," he said in a statement. "Our goal is to develop treatments for the general population that are effective and non-toxic."

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