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Study Compares 3 Common Prostate Cancer Treatments
Date:1/31/2012

TUESDAY, Jan. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Experts comparing three leading prostate cancer therapies find external beam radiation therapy to be more toxic and expensive than either surgery or a more localized form of radiation therapy known as brachytherapy.

The findings were to be presented Tuesday at a meeting in San Francisco, hosted in part by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and focused on prostate cancer.

"Research to date has not given us a clear picture of how each prostate cancer therapy affects men over the long run," study lead author Dr. Jay Ciezki, a staff physician at the Cleveland Clinic, said in an ASCO news release. "Our analysis is one of the first to examine the quality of life and financial costs of these three very common prostate cancer treatment strategies for more than five years after treatment.

In conducting the study, researchers examined treatment outcomes among more than 137,000 men who received external beam radiation, prostatectomy (surgical removal of the prostate) or brachytherapy (radiation therapy administered directly to the tumor via surgically implanted radiation-emitting "seeds"). They also collected Medicare reimbursement records to determine the total cost per patient per year for each of the three prostate cancer treatments over time.

"We were able to get a good picture of the long-term costs of patient care and were surprised to see such dramatic differences among the three treatment strategies," Ciezki noted.

The study revealed that overall, just over 7 percent of the men needed some type of follow-up treatment for a problem related to their prostate cancer therapy.

Brachytherapy, the researchers noted, resulted in the fewest number of toxicities involving their genital or urinary organs. Just 3.4 percent of those treated with this therapy experienced these types of problems, such as a narrowing of the urethra or bladder bleeding. Brachytherapy
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