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Combination Therapy Best for Aggressive Prostate Cancer

Adding radiation and hormone treatment to brachytherapy improves survival, study shows

MONDAY, July 13 (HealthDay News) -- Men with aggressive prostate cancer who have brachytherapy alone are more likely to die than those who receive a combination of treatments, new findings show.

In brachytherapy, radioactive "seeds" are implanted in the tumor.

"Despite the increasing numbers of men worldwide who choose to undergo brachytherapy alone for their high-risk prostate cancer, the evidence supporting this treatment method alone based on survival data from randomized trials is lacking," lead researcher Dr. Anthony D'Amico, chief of genitourinary radiation oncology at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, said in a news release from the hospital.

"In order to get the highest cure rate for men with high-risk prostate cancer, it appears that five weeks of external beam radiation and at least four months of hormonal therapy should be added to brachytherapy," he added.

D'Amico and his colleagues studied death rates from prostate cancer in 1,342 patients with high-risk cancer and at least a 10-year life expectancy. The men were treated using brachytherapy alone or in combination with hormone therapy (androgen-suppression therapy), external beam radiation therapy, or both, according to the study, which appears online and in an upcoming print issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Despite a higher baseline risk of death from prostate cancer, patients who had a combination of brachytherapy, hormone therapy and external beam radiation therapy had a lower risk of death from prostate cancer after treatment than those who received brachytherapy alone, brachytherapy and external beam radiation, or brachytherapy and hormone therapy.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about prostate cancer treatment.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Brigham and Women's Hospital, news release, July 13, 2009

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