Prostate Cancer: Combo Treatment Works
One of the longest ever follow-up studies of radioactive seed implants for prostate cancer shows the treatment to be highly effective in combination with conventional external radiation.
WebMD News Archive
Jan. 8, 2007 -- One of the longest ever follow-up studies of radioactive
"seed" implants for prostate cancerprostate cancer shows the treatment to be highly
effective in combination with conventional external radiation.
Three out of four patients in the study remained disease free at least 15
years after treatment ended, with intermediate-risk patients faring almost as
well as those considered to have a low risk of dying from their cancercancer.
The outcomes compared favorably to the best results reported among
surgically treated patients, says John E. Sylvester, MD, of the Seattle
Sylvester and colleagues followed 223 patients with localized prostate
tumors for at least a decade and a half after treating the men with external
beam radiotherapy and internal seed implants.
"The results that we found in this group of intermediate- to high-risk
patients with localized disease have not been beaten by any other
treatment," Sylvester tells WebMD.
Each year in the U.S. roughly 240,000 men are diagnosed with prostate
cancer, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). And for most new
patients, decisions about which treatment to have or whether or not to even be
treated at all are not clear-cut.
Prostate cancer treatments include surgery to remove the prostate gland,
external radiation, cryotherapy (in which the tumor is treated by freezing it),
radioactive seed implants, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and watchful
Seed implants, also called brachytherapy, are small radioactive pellets
about the size of a grain of rice. The pellets are implanted into the prostate;
they deliver radiation to the prostate cancer from the inside.
Most good-prognosis patients who choose seed implants do not receive other
treatments, Sylvester says. But patients considered to have more aggressive
tumors may get seed implants and external-beam radiation.
The patients in the newly reported follow-up study received seed implants
about four weeks after completion of the short daily external beam radiation
treatment. Most were able to carry on their normal daily activities while
Making Informed Choices About Treatment
Fifteen years later, the overall relapse-free survival rate among the men
was 74%, with survival rates even higher than this for men with low- to
Sylvester says the long-term findings prove that the combination treatment
is an effective prostate cancerprostate cancer treatment.
The study is published in the January issue of the International Journal
of Radiation Oncology*Biology*Physics.
"We now have 15-year results which look excellent, and you really can't
ask for longer follow-up than that in prostate cancercancer
patients," he says.
American Cancer Society spokesman Len Lichtenfeld, MD, tells WebMD that the
long-term data will help patients and clinicians make more informed decisions
about treatment. But he adds that the findings may not make those decisions any