Shifts in Prostate Cancer Radiation Treatment to Improve Effectiveness


Even though it has been adopted as a viable solution since the early 2000s, stereotactic body radiotherapy has seen little use because of safety and performance concerns.  Now, a study coming from UCLA researchers highlights the benefits of this procedure, especially when addressing early cases of prostate cancer.

Most men with low – or intermediate-risk prostate cancer undergo conventional radiation, which requires them to come in daily for treatment and takes an average of nine weeks to complete“, explained lead author Dr.  Amar Kishan.  “With the improvements being made to modern technology, we’ve found that using stereotactic body radiotherapy, which has a higher dose of radiation, can safely and effectively be done in a much shorter timeframe without additional toxicity or compromising any chance of a cure“.

The team analyzed more than 2,100 instances of low – or intermediate-risk prostate cancers from multiple centers where patients received stereotactic body radiotherapy between 2000 and 2012.  Patients were monitored over a median of 6.9 years.  53% of men had been diagnosed with low-risk disease, 32 % had less aggressive intermediate-risk disease and 12% had a more aggressive form of the intermediate-risk disease.

The overall risk of recurrence was practically within the same levels as conventional forms of radiation.  The first group of patients saw a return of disease in about 4,5% of cases, the less aggressive intermediate-risk was 8.6% and the recurrence rate for the more aggressive intermediate-risk group was 14.9%.

Prostate Cancer Radiation

What is remarkable about this very large study is how favorably stereotactic body radiotherapy compares to all other forms of radiation treatments, both in terms of effectiveness and side effects“, noted senior author Dr.  Christopher King.  “With such long-term follow-up data, we can now offer this approach to patients with full confidence“.

The procedure was also found to be more cost effective because of the fewer treatments involved.  There is also research suggesting psychological benefits such as less regret about undergoing treatment.

Dr.  Kishan added that most of the men examined are free of prostate cancer, even seven years after treatment.  “We not only confirm that this method is both safe and effective, but we provide significant evidence that this could be a viable treatment option for men with low- and intermediate-risk prostate cancer”.