Radiation after prostate cancer surgery increases survival

October 17, 2005

Patients with advanced stage prostate cancer who receive radiation therapy immediately after surgery to remove their prostate live longer without their cancer returning than patients who do not receive radiation after surgery, according to a study presented October 17, 2005, at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology's 47th Annual Meeting in Denver.

The study, conducted between 1988 and 1995, enrolled 473 men suffering from advanced stage prostate cancer. After the patients underwent surgery to remove their tumor, they were randomly split into two groups, one that was observed and one that immediately began receiving radiation therapy. Researchers found that the 213 patients undergoing radiation therapy had significantly improved five- and 10-year prostate cancer-free survival rates compared to their counterparts.

At both five and 10 years, radiation reduced the risk of recurrence by 25 percent. The adjuvant radiation also reduced the risk of the cancer spreading to other parts of the body and overall survival, but those differences were not statistically significant. In patients not cured by radiation, the treatment delayed the need for further treatments by four years.

"We have known for a long time that men who undergo surgery and are found to have cancer extending outside their prostate gland are at a very high risk for recurrence," said Gregory Swanson, M.D., a radiation oncologist for the Genitourinary Committee of the Southwest Oncology Group, which was the main sponsor of the study. "To see a 25 percent reduction in recurrence of any cancer is considered a major breakthrough - as cancer doctors, we should be quite impressed. Prostate cancer patients clearly deserve a discussion with their physician about whether adding a course of radiation after surgery is right for them, their cancer and their lifestyle."

For more information on radiation therapy for prostate cancer, please visit www.rtanswers.org or call 1-800-986-7876 for a free brochure.

If you would like a copy of the abstract, "Phase III Randomized Study of Adjuvant Radiation Therapy Versus Observation in Patients With Pathologic T3 Prostate Cancer (SWOG 8794)," or you would like to speak to the lead author of the study, Gregory Swanson, M.D., please call Beth Bukata or Nick Lashinsky October 16-20 in the ASTRO Press Room at the Colorado Convention Center at 303-228-8454 or 303-228-8455. You may also e-mail them at bethb@astro.org or nickl@astro.org.
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ASTRO is the largest radiation oncology society in the world, with more than 8,000 members who specialize in treating patients with radiation therapies. As a leading organization in radiation oncology, biology and physics, the Society is dedicated to the advancement of the practice of radiation oncology by promoting excellence in patient care, providing opportunities for educational and professional development, promoting research and disseminating research results and representing radiation oncology in a rapidly evolving socioeconomic healthcare environment.

American Society for Radiation Oncology

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