Shortened radiation therapy benefits low-risk prostate cancer patients

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radiation therapy

In a new study, researchers find that low-risk prostate cancer patients may be able to undergo a shortened radiation therapy.

This can cut treatment by weeks while offering comparable outcomes and quality of life results as those who undergo longer treatment courses.

In the study, the researchers analyzed the quality of life for 1,092 low-risk prostate cancer patients up to a year after undergoing either conventional radiation therapy or shortened radiation therapy.

Low-risk prostate cancer is defined as having a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level below 10, a Gleason score (a classification of the grade of prostate cancer) of 6 or lower, and low T-stage, as determined by a digital rectal exam

Conventional radiation therapy is typically given in 40-45 fractions over the course of about 8-9 weeks, while treatment in this study with shortened radiation therapy is given in 28 fractions over 5-6 weeks.

The researchers found that patient’s quality of life, including bowel and urinary function, and sexual health, was essentially the same in the shortened radiation group and the traditional radiation group.

The only difference in quality of life was a small, but significantly larger decline in bowel quality of life after shortened radiation compared to those who had traditional radiation therapy.

This small difference, though, was not felt to be clinically meaningful.

“This study is very important as we’re continuously looking for ways to offer cancer patients care that’s more convenient and value-based” says study senior author Benjamin Movsas, M.D., chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Henry Ford Hospital.

“Low-risk prostate cancer patients have many options available, including active surveillance or treatment with surgery or radiation. So those who decide to pursue treatment are increasingly going to be looking for what gives them the best outcome and quality of life.”

“For low-risk prostate cancer patients who do decide they want to be treated, this study demonstrates that shortened radiation therapy over 5-6 weeks is a very reasonable and viable option compared to the conventional course of 8-9 weeks,” says Dr. Movsas.

The finding was presented Sept. 26 during the plenary session at the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) 58th Annual Meeting in Boston.

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News source: Henry Ford Health System.
Figure legend: This Knowridge.com image is credited to liz west.