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Cancer Doctors Okays Controversial Prostate Therapy

A controversial treatment for prostate cancer in which radioactive seeds are implanted in the prostate to destroy the tumor received support Friday from doctors writing therapy guidelines for the prestigious 17-hospital National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) meeting in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. This type of therapy is known as brachytherapy, the procedure has been performed for years by researchers, but previous treatment guidelines for prostate cancer left the procedure out. "The weight of institutional experience at NCCN members allows us to expand the guidelines to include brachytherapy," said Dr. Howard Sandler, head of radiation therapy oncology at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center one of the NCCN hospitals. Three years ago, when the NCCN produced its prostate cancer guidelines there was no mention of brachytherapy. "There was a lot of noise at the time about not putting brachytherapy in the guidelines," said Dr. Laurence Baker, associate chief of hematology/oncology at the University of Michigan and chairman of the committee writing the guidelines. The general consensus at the time, though, was that data on brachytherapy for prostate cancer still needed to mature before doctors were willing to consider it in the guidelines.

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