Radiation treatment is an option for elderly prostate cancer patients

December 03, 2003

CHICAGO - Prostate cancer patients age 80 and older can tolerate external beam radiation therapy, according to a study presented today at the 89th Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

Thirty-three elderly men, most with advanced and aggressive forms of prostate cancer, were treated with external beam radiation therapy at the same radiation levels used to treat patients in their 50s and 60s. The elderly patients, whose five-year survival rate was 61.6 percent, experienced no unusual or prolonged interruptions in treatment due to illness from radiation, said study author Melvin Deutsch, M.D., the Raul Mercado professor of radiation oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Thirteen of the elderly patients were alive and disease-free 23 to 83 months after treatment. Six patients with evidence of cancer progression were alive 44 to 98 months after treatment. Of the fourteen patients who died during the 10-year study, five had no evidence of prostate cancer, four had evidence of disease progression, and five had an unknown status of the disease.

"The 61 percent survival rate is better than the five-year survival rate for lung cancer patients, and lung cancer is aggressively treated with radiation," Dr. Deutsch said. "So why not give elderly patients the benefit of the doubt? There's a good chance they'll live another five years."

Not all elderly cancer patients are good candidates for radiation therapy, such as those who are severely ill or incapacitated, according to Dr. Deutsch. For others, their physicians may pursue alternative treatments, such as hormone therapy or a "watchful waiting" approach. Dr. Deutsch also points out that there is a school of thought that the effort and cost of radiation therapy is not beneficial to patients in their advanced stages of life. But if the decision to treat elderly prostate cancer patients with radiation rests on whether they can endure it, the results from the 33 elderly men in this study show that they can, according to Dr. Deutsch.

"When an 80-year-old patient comes to me with prostate cancer, assuming he's otherwise healthy, I'm going to treat him with radiation," Dr. Deutsch said. "If it can keep the cancer from coming back, then I say do it."

Co-authors of the study were Diane M. Heaton, M.D., and Maury M. Rosenstein, M.D.
-end-
RSNA is an association of more than 35,000 radiologists, radiation oncologists and related scientists committed to promoting excellence in radiology through education and by fostering research, with the ultimate goal of improving patient care. The Society is based in Oak Brook, Ill.

Editor's notes: Dr. Deutsch presented data at RSNA 2000 showing that women age 80 and older had a five-year survival rate of 78 percent after they were treated with radiation for breast cancer. The breast irradiation followed lumpectomies. External beam radiation therapy was well tolerated in all 47 patients, and the majority had good to excellent cosmetic results.

Copies of 2003 RSNA news releases and electronic images will be available online at www.rsna.org/press03 beginning Monday, Dec. 1.

The data in these releases may differ from those in the printed abstract and those actually presented at the meeting, as researchers continue to update their data right up until the meeting. To ensure you are using the most up-to-date information, please call the RSNA newsroom at 312-949-3233.

Radiological Society of North America

Related Prostate Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

Low risk of cancer spread on active surveillance for early prostate cancer
Men undergoing active surveillance for prostate cancer have very low rates - one percent or less - of cancer spread (metastases) or death from prostate cancer, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Urology®, an Official Journal of the American Urological Association (AUA).

ESMO 2020: Breast cancer drug set to transform prostate cancer treatment
A drug used to treat breast and ovarian cancer can extend the lives of some men with prostate cancer and should become a new standard treatment for the disease, concludes a major trial which is set to change clinical practice.

Major trial shows breast cancer drug can hit prostate cancer Achilles heel
A drug already licensed for the treatment of breast and ovarian cancers is more effective than targeted hormone therapy at keeping cancer in check in some men with advanced prostate cancer, a major clinical trial reports.

The Lancet: Prostate cancer study finds molecular imaging could transform management of patients with aggressive cancer
Results from a randomised controlled trial involving 300 prostate cancer patients find that a molecular imaging technique is more accurate than conventional medical imaging and recommends the scans be introduced into routine clinical practice.

Common genetic defect in prostate cancer inspires path to new anti-cancer drugs
Researchers found that, in prostate cancer, a mutation leading to the loss of one allele of a tumor suppressor gene known as PPP2R2A is enough to worsen a tumor caused by other mutations.

First prostate cancer therapy to target genes delays cancer progression
For the first time, prostate cancer has been treated based on the genetic makeup of the cancer, resulting in delayed disease progression, delayed time to pain progression, and potentially extending lives in patients with advanced, metastatic prostate cancer, reports a large phase 3 trial.

Men taking medications for enlarged prostate face delays in prostate cancer diagnosis
University of California San Diego School of Medicine researchers report that men treated with medications for benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate) experienced a two-year delay in diagnosis of their prostate cancer and were twice as likely to have advanced disease upon diagnosis.

CNIO researchers confirm links between aggressive prostate cancer and hereditary breast cancer
The study has potential implications for families with members suffering from these types of tumours who are at an increased risk of developing cancer.

Distinguishing fatal prostate cancer from 'manageable' cancer now possible
Scientists at the University of York have found a way of distinguishing between fatal prostate cancer and manageable cancer, which could reduce unnecessary surgeries and radiotherapy.

Researchers find prostate cancer drug byproduct can fuel cancer cells
A genetic anomaly in certain men with prostate cancer may impact their response to common drugs used to treat the disease, according to new research at Cleveland Clinic.

Read More: Prostate Cancer News and Prostate Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.