Lingering uncertainty about the effectiveness of salvage radiotherapy and its side effects have led many urologists not to recommend the treatment, says co-author Steven Buskirk, M.D., from Mayo Clinic in Florida.
This study, which lasted two decades, was undertaken to specifically document those side effects. It studied 308 patients with a median follow-up of 60 months after salvage external beam radiotherapy. Only one patient had a serious (grade 4) complication and three patients had a less serious (grade 3) side effect. None of these effects were fatal, and all were treated. Milder side effects were seen in an additional 37 patients, the researchers say, and all were successfully treated for these complications. Urinary leakage, a concern of many patients who choose not to use radiation, was not a common side effect of treatment.
Improved techniques in the administration of salvage external beam radiotherapy since the study began in 1987 likely would mean the rate of side effects today, compared to those in the study, would be much lower, says Dr. Buskirk.
"We can do a better job today with delivering radiation precisely where we want to, while minimizing dose to surrounding normal tissues," he says.
"In our experience at Mayo Clinic, the side effects of salvage radiotherapy in patients treated after a radical prostatectomy are minimal," says Dr. Peterson. "Even more importantly, it is the only potential curative treatment possible in these patients once cancer has recurred."
The study was funded by Mayo Clinic.'/>"/>
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