Men who get radiation therapy after surgery for advanced prostate cancer are less likely to experience a recurrence of the disease, a new study shows.
Dr. Gregory Swanson, a study researcher and radiation oncologist at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, says radiation therapy is the first and only treatment to show this benefit in men whose prostate cancer has spread to the area around the gland. "Radiation therapy has to be considered the standard of care."
In the study, disease recurrence was indicated by higher levels of prostate-specific antigen, a protein made in prostate tissue.
The study involved 425 men with advanced prostate cancer who were randomly assigned to radiation therapy or observation within 16 weeks of surgery.
After 10 years, cancer had recurred in 75 per cent of patients who did not get radiation therapy, compared with only 50 per cent of those who did. However, the overall survival rates were not considered significantly different, at 74 per cent for radiation versus 66 per cent for observation.
"If you used a more contemporary radiation dose . . . or used chemotherapy plus radiation, you could further improve the advantage of radiation," Swanson says.
As for side-effects, both urinary problems and bowel tenderness were significantly worse in the radiation group during treatment, but by five years there was no significant difference in quality of life between the two groups, according to The Medical Post.