Shorter, Better Prostate Cancer Treatment

Prostate cancer androgen therapy course can be shorter prior to radiotherapy

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Testosterone is the powerful male hormone that gives a man his manly characteristics. Testosterone also feeds prostate cancer.

So blocking or suppressing the activity of this hormone is usually part of prostate cancer treatment. New research has revealed that a shorter course of testosterone suppression therapy prior to radiation therapy worked just as well as longer courses and had fewer negative side effects.

The shorter course was eight weeks long, compared to the standard 28 weeks.

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Thomas Pisansky, MD, professor of radiation oncology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, was the lead author of this study.

“Sometimes, preliminary research leads us to assume that more treatment is better, but this study serves as a strong cautionary note to put the promising treatment to the test,” Dr. Pisansky said in a statement.

This phase lll trial involved 1,490 prostate cancer patients from 152 institutions in the US and Canada.

The men had intermediate-risk cancer, meaning their disease was not aggressive.

Participants were divided into two groups — one that received eight weeks of androgen (male hormone) suppression and the other received 28 weeks.

Both groups then underwent eight weeks of radiation therapy, during which the hormone therapy continued.

After 10 years, disease-specific survival (men still alive with prostate cancer) was essentially the same for both groups — 95 percent for the men who had eight weeks of hormone therapy and 96 percent for men who had the longer course.

Ten-year overall survival (death from any cause) was also about the same for both groups — 66 percent for the first group and 67 percent for the men who had longer hormone therapy.

The men who had the 28 weeks of androgen therapy had more hot flashes and erectile dysfunction than did the gentlemen who had the shorter course.

David Horvick, MD, radiation oncologist with 21st Century Oncology of New Jersey, told dailyRx News, “This study sets a new standard by allowing a shorter duration of androgen suppression in prostate cancer patients with intermediate risk factors. The shorter duration of androgen suppression resulted in equal control of cancer but fewer side effects,” Dr. Horvick said.

“Ongoing studies," he continued, "are investigating whether androgen suppression can be completely eliminated when higher doses of radiation are used.”

Findings from this study were presented at the American Society for Radiation Oncology’s (ASTRO) 55th Annual Meeting.

The study was supported by grants from the National Cancer Institute. Two of the authors disclosed financial relations with pharmaceutical companies.

All research is considered preliminary before it is published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Review Date: 
September 25, 2013
Last Updated:
September 25, 2013