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Prostate Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Treatment Option Overview for Prostate Cancer

Table 9. Treatment Options by Stage for Prostate Cancer continued...

Morbidity may be reduced with the employment of sophisticated radiation therapy techniques—such as the use of linear accelerators—and careful simulation and treatment planning.[65,66]

Evidence (3-dimensional conformal vs. conventional radiation therapy):

  1. The side effects of similar doses of 3-D conformal radiation therapy and conventional radiation therapy (total dose = 60–64 Gy) have been compared in a randomized, nonblinded study.[66][Level of evidence: 1iiC]
    • No differences were observed in acute morbidity, and late side effects serious enough to require hospitalization were infrequent with both techniques; however, the cumulative incidence of mild or greater proctitis was lower in the conformal radiation arm than in the standard therapy arm (37% vs. 56%; P = .004). Urinary symptoms were similar in the two treatment groups, as were local tumor control and OS rates at 5 years of follow-up.

Radiation therapy can be delivered after an extraperitoneal lymph node dissection without an increase in complications if careful attention is paid to radiation technique. The treatment field should not include the area that contained the dissected pelvic nodes. Previous TURP is associated with an increased risk of stricture above that seen with radiation therapy alone, but, if radiation therapy is delayed 4 to 6 weeks after the TURP, the risk of stricture is lower.[67,68,69] Pretreatment TURP to relieve obstructive symptoms has been associated with tumor dissemination; however, multivariable analysis in pathologically staged cases indicates that this may be due to a worse underlying prognosis of the cases that require TURP rather than the result of the procedure itself.[70]

Comparison of complications from radiation therapy and from radical prostatectomy

In general, radical prostatectomy is associated with a higher rate of urinary incontinence and early sexual impotence but a lower rate of stool incontinence and rectal injury. However, over time, the differences in sexual impotence diminish because the risk rises with time since radiation.

Evidence (complications of radical prostatectomy vs. radiation therapy):

  1. A population-based survey of Medicare recipients who had received radiation therapy as primary treatment for prostate cancer (similar in design to the survey of Medicare patients who underwent radical prostatectomy,[36] described above) has been reported, showing substantial differences in posttreatment morbidity profiles between surgery and radiation therapy.[71]
    • Although the men who had undergone radiation therapy were older at the time of initial therapy, they were less likely to report the need for pads or clamps to control urinary wetness (7% vs. more than 30%).
    • A larger proportion of patients treated with radiation therapy before surgery reported the ability to have an erection sufficient for intercourse in the month before the survey (men <70 years, 33% who received radiation therapy vs. 11% who underwent surgery alone; men ≥70 years, 27% who received radiation therapy vs. 12% who underwent surgery alone).
    • Men receiving radiation therapy, however, were more likely to report problems with bowel function, especially frequent bowel movements (10% vs. 3%).
    • As in the results of the surgical patient survey, about 24% of patients who received radiation reported additional subsequent treatment for known or suspected cancer persistence or recurrence within 3 years of primary therapy.
  2. A prospective, community-based cohort study of men aged 55 to 74 years treated with radical prostatectomy (n = 1,156) or EBRT (n = 435) attempted to compare the acute and chronic complications of the two treatment strategies after adjusting for baseline differences in patient characteristics and underlying health.[72]
    • Regarding acute treatment-related morbidity, radical prostatectomy was associated with higher rates of cardiopulmonary complications (5.5% vs. 1.9%) and the need for treatment of urinary strictures (17.4% vs. 7.2%). Radiation therapy was associated with more acute rectal proctitis (18.7% vs. 1.6%).
    • With regard to chronic treatment-related morbidity, radical prostatectomy was associated with more urinary incontinence (9.6% vs. 3.5%) and impotence (80% vs. 62%). Radiation therapy was associated with slightly greater declines in bowel function.
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WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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