Better outcomes can be achieved for prostate cancer patients using brachytherapy, a highly targeted form of radiotherapy, compared to surgery - this is the finding of a new study conducted by PANAXEA, The University of Twente, Netherlands.
The study, which will be presented at the European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO) 19-23 April 2013, Geneva, Switzerland used the latest cost effectiveness model to look at relevant recent data for prostate cancer. The study analysed research findings from six recent overview studies, involving 55,000 patients and looked at disease progression, associated costs and outcomes extrapolated over a ten-year time horizon from a UK NHS cost perspective.
The study authors found that in patients where the prostate cancer remains localised, brachytherapy is more cost effective and importantly offers better quality of life outcomes - either when used alone in low risk patients where 'active surveillance' is not favoured or in combination with external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) for higher risk patients.
Brachytherapy is a highly targeted form of radiotherapy where a radiation source is placed inside or next to the area that requires treatment. By doing so, it reduces the risk of unnecessary damage to healthy tissue and organs - and reduces side effects such as incontinence and erectile dysfunction. Brachytherapy is underused in the UK where only four to five per cent of patients are treated with it compared with eight per cent in Germany and 25 per cent in the United States.
Around 50 per cent of prostate cancer patients in the UK are treated using surgery, which is associated with an increased risk of incontinence and impotence compared to radiotherapy treatments. Despite the increased risk, more younger men choose surgery over radiotherapy – studies have shown that this treatment choice is influenced by the patient's first consultation with their doctor.2