THURSDAY, March 24 (HealthDay News) -- Just six months of hormone therapy, along with radiation, cuts the risk of dying from locally advanced prostate cancer in half when compared to radiation alone, researchers report.
Just as important, the study indicates that a short course of hormone therapy has few of the side effects seen with longer treatment regimens of two to three years.
Hormone therapy in men, also known as androgen-deprivation therapy, lowers levels of the male hormones that encourage prostate cancer to grow.
"A halving of the risk of dying from these more advanced prostate cancers clearly has very major significance for men affected," said researcher Dr. David Lamb, director of the Prostate Cancer Trials Unit at the University of Otago in Wellington, New Zealand.
"Early diagnosis of prostate cancer remains the goal, but at least men presenting with more advanced tumors can now be offered treatment proven to have a much better chance of cure," he said.
The report is published in the March 24 online edition of The Lancet Oncology.
As part of the Trans-Tasman Radiation Oncology Group trial, Lamb's group randomly assigned 802 men with locally advanced prostate cancer to radiation alone, or three months of hormone therapy plus radiation, or six months of hormone therapy and radiation.
Over an average of 10.6 years of follow-up, men who received six months of hormone therapy and radiation were significantly less likely to die from prostate cancer than men who had radiation alone -- 11 percent vs. 22 percent, respectively. They were also much less likely to die from any cause -- 29 percent vs. 43 percent, the researchers found.
Hormone therapy over three months had no effect on the spread of prostate cancer, or dying from the cancer or any other cause, compared with radiation alone, Lamb's team noted.
Compared to a six-month
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