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Hormone Therapy Can Help Some With Prostate Cancer
Date:11/2/2009

But often not needed for early-stage patients, long-running study shows

MONDAY, Nov. 2 (HealthDay News) -- A brief course of hormone-blocking therapy can provide small benefits to a specific group of men who get radiation therapy for prostate cancer, a long-running study shows.

Ten-year survival was 62 percent in men with cancers graded as intermediate risk who got treatment that blocked their male hormone activity in addition to radiation therapy, compared to 57 percent of those who got radiation therapy alone, said Dr. Christopher U. Jones, a radiation oncologist at Radiological Associates of Sacramento, a member of the group who reported the results Monday at the American Society for Radiation Oncology annual meeting, in Chicago.

When biopsies were taken from men in the group, no traces of cancer were found in 78 percent of those having combined hormone-radiation therapy, compared to 60 percent of those who got radiation therapy alone.

The benefit is statistically significant but not huge, because "we weren't expecting large differences" in such cases, Jones said. And while study results already are incorporated in medical practice, it is not the final word on the issue, since the field is still evolving, he said.

"The standard of care in radiation therapy has changed since the study began in 1994," Jones said. "We can now localize treatment more so we give higher doses of radiation, 50 percent higher."

Even the definition of "intermediate risk" has changed over the years, he said. It is based on such factors as levels of prostate-specific antigen, a hormone produced by the gland, and Gleason score, a measure of the prostate's orderly structure.

"Since the study opened, we have more data and are better able to determine who is truly at low risk," Jones said. "Of the 2,000 we enrolled, we now know that 685 were truly low-risk, 1,068 were at intermediate risk and 226 were high-risk.
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