Radiation helps patients who have undergone prostate cancer surgery

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A new study published in The Lancet supports the use of radiation therapy to prevent recurrence after surgery to remove the prostate (radical prostatectomy). Study subjects were divided into two groups of about 500 patients each those who received immediate radiation therapy and those who were simply monitored for signs of cancer recurrence and were followed for over 10 years.

After 10 years, men who received radiation therapy after having a radical prostatectomy had significantly lower (39 percent) PSA blood levels than the men randomized to receive no radiation therapy (62 percent). However, the authors of the study also point out that the reduced risk of PSA levels did not translate into a survival benefit.

The two groups did not differ with respect to survival in total, or with or without metastasis (spread) of the cancer. The progression-free survival, which was observed to differ between the two groups at five years, had disappeared by 10 years. Furthermore, overall survival did not seem to differ significantly between treatment groups, with the 10-year survival among radiation therapy patients 77 percent and 80 percent in the monitored group.

The debate continues over the most effective approach toward the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer with strong data supporting active surveillance in men with early-stage prostate cancer, states ACSH s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan. This study shows promising results for those men who do have a radical prostatectomy. While we still believe men should not rush into radical prostate cancer surgery, if surgery is necessary, radiation therapy appears to provide medical benefits right away.