Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size

Advancing Prostate Cancer: Combo Treatment Best

Radiation + Hormone Treatment Doubles Survival in Locally Advanced Prostate Cancer
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Dec. 15, 2008 - Adding radiation to hormone therapy doubles survival of patients with advancing prostate cancer that hasn't yet spread through the body, a Swedish study confirms.

Lingering questions have remained about the best way to treat men whose prostate cancer has breached the wall of the prostate gland but hasn't spread much farther (technically, stage T3,N0,M0 prostate cancer).

Hormone therapy -- that is, drugs that cut off the tumor's supply of male hormones -- increases survival. Clinical trials suggest that at this stage of the disease, surgical removal of the prostate (radical prostatectomy) -- offers a smaller survival advantage.

In the U.S., the combination of radiation and hormone therapy is often a first treatment choice for locally advanced prostate cancer. That's a good call, suggests a long-term study of the treatment by Anders Widmark, MD, of Umea University, Sweden, and colleagues.

Ten years after starting treatment, about 24% of men treated with hormone therapy alone had died of prostate cancer. Only about 12% of men treated with the hormone/radiation combination had died of their cancer.

"The improvement was achieved without excess long-term toxicity," Widmark and colleagues note.

Four years after treatment, patients treated with the radiation/hormone combination had significantly more diarrhea than those treated with hormone therapy alone. But 85% of patients said the side effects were acceptable.

In an editorial accompanying the study, Alex Tan, MD, and Chris Parker, MD, of the Institute of Cancer Research, Sutton, Surrey, England, note that the combination treatment may slow progression of "micrometastases." These are existing metastases too small to detect at the time of diagnosis, but which would grow into fatal tumors if left untreated.

Tan and Parker join the Widmark team in recommending that radiation plus hormone therapy become the standard first-line treatment for locally advanced prostate cancer.

The Widmark study, and the Tan/Parker editorial, appear in the Dec. 16 issue of The Lancet.

Today on WebMD

man with doctor
Symptoms, risks, treatments
man coughing
Men shouldn’t ignore
prostate cancer cells
What does this diagnosis mean?
doctor and male patient
Is it worth it?
cancer fighting foods
15 Cancer Symptoms Men Ignore
Prostate Enlarged
Picture Of The Prostate
Prostate Cancer Quiz
screening tests for men
Prostate Cancer Symptoms
Vitamin D