Study: Current Prostate Cancer Radiation Works As Well As Newer Type
The type of radiation therapy now most commonly used to treat prostate cancer is not only more effective than the traditional form it has largely replaced, but works just as well as a much-trumpeted expensive new approach that requires machinery that can top $125 million, according to a new study by UNC-Chapel Hill researchers.
Prostate cancer is the second most common form of cancer in men, with more than 240,000 new cases expected to be diagnosed in the United States this year.
Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) delivers a more precise dose of radiation to tumors to kill cancer cells, but until now there had been little direct proof that it worked better than the more traditional form of radiation therapy it has largely supplanted, said Dr. Ronald Chen, an assistant professor of radiation oncology and member of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. Chen was the senior author of an article on the study that appeared today in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Chen's group also examined how IMRT compared with proton therapy, an approach that's growing more common and touted for its ability to concentrate radiation even better and avoid damage to surrounding tissue.
Using data from about 13,000 patients with non-metastatic prostate cancer, the researchers compared the three forms of radiation therapy. They found men treated with IMRT were less likely to receive a diagnosis of gastrointestinal adverse effects and hip fracture than those receiving the older "conformal radiation therapy." They also were 20 percent less likely to get additional cancer therapy, but somewhat more likely to be diagnosed with erectile dysfunction.