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Combination Therapy May Treat Prostate Cancer

Study Shows Increased Survival When Hormone Treatment Is Combined With Radiation

Radiation vs. Combination Therapy continued...

The hormone therapy reduces levels of male hormones, called androgens, which trigger the growth of prostate cancer cells.

When the researchers looked more closely at the risk groups, Shipley says, there were some important findings.

"If you looked at the subgroup that was in the low-risk category, there was no apparent benefit to the hormone therapy," he says. "It's safe to say it's hard to suggest these men need this treatment."

Adding the hormone therapy to those at high risk of progression appears beneficial, the researches write. However, they had an increase in deaths from prostate cancer at 10 years. The group that benefits most, Shipley says, is the group at intermediate risk of progression.

Side Effects

More men in the combination group had erectile dysfunction than those in the radiation-only group.

Before the treatment, 48% of those in the combination group and 54% of those in the radiation-only group said they could always or nearly always get an erection.

At the one-year mark, 21% of the combination group and 31% of those in the radiation group said that was still true.

''About half [in the hormone therapy group] got some form of hot flashes, and that can be bothersome," Shipley tells WebMD.

The radiation and the combination treatments are likely to be covered by a patient's insurance, Shipley says.

Second Opinion

The study is an important one, says Stanley Liauw, MD, assistant professor of radiation oncology at the University of Chicago. He has researched combination therapy for high-risk prostate cancer.

He reviewed the study findings for WebMD.

Earlier studies have found benefit for combined treatment for men with locally advanced cancers, he says. But it wasn’t known if the combined therapy could help men with earlier cancers.

The new study is not the only one to address the question, he says. "However, this study is the largest, and with mature follow-up. It shows that four months of hormonal therapy does improve survival for men with intermediate-risk prostate cancer."

The study reinforces the need to individualize treatment, he says.

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