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Radiation Plus Hormone Therapy Cuts Prostate Cancer Deaths
Date:12/15/2008

Study confirms effectiveness of widely used approach, experts say

MONDAY, Dec. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Men with locally advanced prostate cancer -- cancer that has spread beyond the wall of the prostate gland -- who undergo radiation plus long-term hormone treatment cut their risk of dying in half, a new study has found.

The addition of radiotherapy kept patients healthy much longer, the Swedish research team concluded. In fact, by adding radiotherapy, men's overall survival was increased by 10 percent with only a modest increase in the risk of radiation-related side effects.

"The study will change practice in the treatment of locally advanced or local aggressive prostate cancer," said lead researcher Dr. Anders Widmark, from the department of radiation sciences and oncology at Umeå University. "These patients should be offered the addition of local radiation treatment."

At least one American expert agreed. "This study just proves what we have suspected for a long time -- namely, that both treatments are needed to get the best results," said Dr. Anthony D'Amico, chief of radiation oncology at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

The report is published in the Dec. 16 online edition of The Lancet.

In this trial, 875 men with locally advanced prostate cancer were randomly assigned to receive either the drug flutamide (Eulexin), to block androgens (male hormones), or hormone therapy along with radiation. Androgens are thought to encourage the spread of prostate cancer, so blocking their effect is a common prostate cancer treatment.

Over an average follow-up of almost eight years, 79 men who received hormone treatment alone died, compared with 37 men who received hormone treatment plus radiation, Widmark's group found.

After 10 years, 23.9 percent of the men in the hormone therapy-only group had died from prostate cancer compared with 11.9 percent of the men in the
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