Increasing Prostate Cancer Survival

Hormone and radiation therapy improve early stage prostate cancer survival

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) With the introduction of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing, prostate cancers are detected at very early stages. Knowing how to best treat men with this disease has now advanced.

The largest trial of its kind has shown that short-term hormone therapy that's combined with radiation therapy increases the chances of men with early-stage prostate cancer living longer and not dying from the disease than men who received radiation only.

"Early prostate cancer responds best to hormone and radiation therapies."

This long-running trial followed nearly 2,000 men with low and moderate risk of their prostate cancer getting worse. The study was conducted for more than nine years - October 1994 to April 2001 - at 212 centers throughout the United States and Canada.

All participants had early, localized tumors with PSA levels of 20 or less. It's known that male hormones (androgens), including testosterone, drive the growth of prostate cancer cells.

So this study looked at the effects of lowering adrogens. This treatment that's called androgen deprivation therapy or ADT, was given for four months.

Adding this short-term ADT to radiation therapy delivered significant outcome improvements:

  • Improved overall 10-year survival rates - 57 percent for men receiving radiation only to 62 percent with the dual therapy
  • Fewer overall prostate cancer-related deaths - 8 percent vs. 4 percent with the combined therapies
  • Reduced deaths among men with intermediate risks, declining from 10 percent to 3 percent
  • No changes in 10-year survival rates among low-risk participants.

These findings are tremendously significant in terms of improving care and utilization of healthcare resources, says trial co-principal investigator and lead author Christopher U. Jones, M.D. of Radiological Associates of Sacramento, Sacramento, Calif.

The authors note that higher radiation doses and new treatment technologies may achieve similar and possibly even better results than those seen with the additional short-term ADT.

It is estimated that about 240,890 Americans will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2011, with nearly nine out of 10 having early-stage disease.

This study is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 12, 2011
Last Updated:
July 16, 2011