Could shortening radiation courses for men undergoing treatment for prostate cancer be just as effective as conventional, longer courses? New research from the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center suggests this just may be the case. Their findings are published in The International Journal of Radiation Oncology.
Men with high-risk prostate cancer typically undergo radiation courses that last 45 days. Such traditional courses require daily visits for treatment and can be burdensome for many men and their families, drastically altering the quality of life. Now new findings suggest that shortening radiation therapy from six-and-a-half weeks to five days of large-dose delivery may be a safe and effective alternative.
The shorter regimen consists of what is called stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT), which is a form of external beam radiation therapy that uses a higher dose of radiation than the 45-day course of radiotherapy. SBRT has been previously shown to be effective for men with low- and intermediate-risk prostate cancer, boasting a four-year cure rate of 82%.
In the study conducted, the researchers considered the efficacy and toxicity of SBRT in high-risk prostate cancer in seven institutional phase II trials and prospective registries. In their analysis, the team looked at data from 344 men with high-risk prostate cancer. The minimum follow-up was 24 months and the median follow-up was 49.5 months. They found that severe side effects from SBRT were rare, with approximately 2% of men experiencing urinary issues and less than 1% experiencing bowel side effects.
These data provide evidence that SBRT offers a safe and effective alternative treatment for men with high-risk prostate cancer. While the team cautions that more prospective studies are needed to evaluate the optimal dose and target volume, they say their findings represent a significant advancement that could improve the overall quality of life for patients.