New Prostate Cancer Therapy Reduces Harmful Side Effects

IMRT prostate cancer treatment less harmful than 3DCRT

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

(RxWiki News) A common treatment for prostate cancer is radiation therapy. Traditional radiation therapy can harm healthy tissue and result in harmful side effects. A new radiation therapy offers patients a better alternative.

A recent study by the Washington University Medical Center in St. Louis found that using Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) for prostate cancer results in fewer harmful side effects than standard radiotherapy.

"Ask your doctor if IMRT could be used for your prostate cancer."

Standard external beam radiation therapy, 3D Conformal Radiation Therapy (3D-CRT), uses advanced computer and imaging technology to deliver radiation beams to an area without harming nearby healthy tissues. IMRT is a newer version of 3D-CRT which increases accuracy by better shaping and pinpointing the radiation beam to the tumor.

Led by Jeff Michalski M.D., researchers compared IMRT with standard 3D-CRT, focusing on toxicity and side effects.The study enrolled 748 patients with localized prostate cancer that had not spread past the prostate gland. The participants were divided into two groups, 257 were treated with IMRT and 491 with 3D-CRT.

Researchers found that 26 percent of patients undergoing IMRT had fewer side effects such as frequent urination, diarrhea and rectal inflammation. IMRT's accuracy also allowed for a higher dose of radiation which could increase cure rates. Inexplicably, there was a fifteen percent increase in rectal side effects among white men, but not any other races.

Dr. Michalski, says this study demonstrates the safety of IMRT and its continued use as a prostate cancer treatment.

Findings from this study were presented at the 53rd annual American Society for Radiation Oncology.

Research is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
October 4, 2011
Last Updated:
November 3, 2011