In one of the longest studies ever conducted on prostate cancer and high-dose intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), 89% of participants have come out of it cancer- free. The eight-year study is providing exciting results that could mean a long-term solution for many prostate cancer sufferers.
The study involved 561 senior citizens (with the median age of 68) who were classified into different groups based on their prognosis. After eight years, it turned out that those individuals who were placed into the favorable risk group showed no signs of the prostate cancer recurring. Also, none of the individuals in any group experienced any cases of secondary cancer occurring as a result of the therapy.
The study looked at 561 patients who were treated with IMRT between April 1996 and January 2000. IMRT is basically a better form of the standard three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT), which is also used in radiotherapy. IMRT allows medical practitioners to specifically target the prostate by focusing a beam of radiation directly at the prostate, leaving the bladder and rectum alone in the process.
Thanks to IMRT, the researchers found that it was curative for the majority of the participants in the study, where 89% of the patients in the favorable category, 78% in the intermediate stage of prostate cancer category, and 67% in the unfavorable category all saw positive outcomes. This was after the average period of eight years, which proves to be especially promising.
Perhaps thanks to IMRT’s advanced application, patients also experienced a maintained control of urinary incontinence and a very low percentage of rectal bleeding (only 1.6% of participants). The findings of this promising study are published in this year’s October issue of The Journal of Urology.
Dr. Michael J. Zelefsky, one of the researchers in the study, noted “Our results suggest that IMRT should be the treatment of choice for delivering high-dose, external beam radiotherapy for patients with localized prostate cancer. We were able to show long-term safety and long-term efficacy in a very diverse group of prostate cancer patients that we followed — many for as long as ten years.”
He also noted that even though some of the participants had an aggressive form of prostate cancer, a huge majority proved to have good control of their tumors thanks to the therapy, along with no evidence that subsequent cancers developed in their bodies as well. This is good news, as high doses of radiation often pose the risk of other cancers forming as a result.
Dr. Zelefsky also added that the study indeed confirms IMRT can help improve a person’s quality of life and chances of survival by lowering the side effects of conventional radiotherapy while helping him/her stay disease-free. He also noted that there was still a long way to go in terms of improving upon the therapy. “We are incorporating image-guided approaches that may continue the excellent tumor control but further limit the area we are irradiating and reduce side effects.”
We’ll keep you posted on any new developments that surface on prostate cancer and IMRT.