Today's prostate cancer treatments are more aggressive and successful

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In recent years, doctors have become more willing to treat prostate cancer more aggressively with radiation therapy, and as a result, more patients are being cured of their cancer, according to a new study published in the July 15, 2004, issue of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology-Biology-Physics, the official journal of ASTRO, the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology.

A 1999 Patterns of Care survey reviewing the records of more than 550 patients from 58 institutions across the United States shows that in comparison to surveys from 1989 and 1994, radiation oncologists are using higher doses of external beam radiation therapy to treat both earlier stages and more aggressive forms of prostate cancer. In 1999, 45 percent of prostate cancer patients were treated with higher doses of radiation therapy compared to 3 percent in both 1989 and 1994.

In the study, researchers learned that the results of clinical trials have persuaded many radiation oncologists today to add androgen deprivation therapy to radiation therapy to treat more aggressive or well-established cancers. Further, there has been a significant increase in the use of CT-based treatment planning and conformal radiation therapy for treatment delivery.

“This is an important study because it looks at changing trends over many years in the use of radiation therapy for curing prostate cancer in the United States,” said Michael J. Zelefsky, M.D., lead author of the study and a radiation oncologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. “After careful analysis, we have learned that in general, more radiation oncologists are applying the results of clinical trials, which have taught us to use higher dose levels of radiation and integrate hormone therapy in conjunction with radiation therapy to achieve more successful outcomes for prostate cancer patients. In short, the trends are demonstrating more precise delivery of high dose treatment.”

For more information on radiation therapy for prostate cancer, visit www.astro.org/patient/treatment_information/.

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