WEDNESDAY, July 13 (HealthDay News) -- For men who have prostate cancer that's considered "intermediate risk," radiation plus four months of hormone therapy appears to improve survival, a new study finds.
This combination of treatments, however, was not effective in men with either low-risk prostate cancer or advanced disease, the researchers said. Men with high-risk cancer need long-term hormone therapy.
The hormone therapy is known as androgen deprivation therapy. It's designed to reduce the levels of male hormones (androgens) in the body, since they can stimulate the growth of prostate cancer cells.
"For patients with early, localized cancer of the prostate who were treated with radiation therapy, [by] adding short-term androgen deprivation therapy, we improved their cure rates and increased their chance of living 10 years from 57 percent to 62 percent," said lead researcher Dr. Christopher U. Jones, from Radiological Associates of Sacramento, Calif.
But when the researchers looked closely at those findings, they found that patients with low-risk prostate cancer did not need hormone therapy because the chance they would survive with radiation alone was already almost 99 percent, Jones said.
And while short term hormonal therapy is "not very toxic, there are [still] some toxicities," Jones noted. "We don't want to treat any man unnecessarily with that type of treatment. We really want to make sure -- if we are going to recommend that treatment -- the person really needs it," he said.
On the other hand, hormone therapy plus radiation was most effective in patients with intermediate-risk prostate cancer. "We decreased the risk of dying from prostate cancer in those patients from 10 percent to 3 percent, at 10 years," Jones said.
For patients with high-risk prostate cancer, using hormone therapy for just a short while is not effective, he added. "We k
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