New approach to treat prostate cancer

The American Society for Radiation Oncology says a shorter course of radiation treatment works just as well as a longer course of treatment in patients with prostate cancer.  However, the shorter course also means higher doses of radiation each time.  Doctors believe this new approach could cut radiation treatments down by 2 to 3 weeks.

The treatment struggle
For many dealing with any kind of cancer, the treatments for the disease are often as bothersome as the cancer itself.  Radiation and chemotherapy come with a long list of side effects that leave patients feeling sick to their stomach, tired and all around worn out.  While cutting off 2 or 3 treatments may not seem like a lot, for those battling through the treatments, any relief is welcome.

“This long-term study confirms that hypofractionated radiation that shortens treatment by about two and a half weeks is a practical approach to effectively controlling prostate cancer, as compared to the more standard treatment for men with intermediate to high-risk prostate cancer,” Alan Pollack, MD, chairman of radiation oncology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Miami, said.

The study details and results
The study involved 303 men with intermediate to high-risk prostate cancer who were randomized to receive either hypofractionated radiation or the conventional fractionated radiation between 2002 and 2006.

The men dealing with prostate cancer were followed for five years and doctors did see exciting results.  Those that had the faster treatments saw results quicker.  Both groups still experienced side effects including urinary problems.

Doctors say there are ways to lower the risk of prostate cancer and believe this treatment may be useful for other kinds of cancer in the future as well.

“Hypofractionation is rapidly gaining momentum for many types of cancers. The results presented here bring us much closer to effectively treating prostate cancer in a shorter period of time, with acceptable side effects.”

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