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According to an article published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, higher radiation doses reduce the rate of cancer progression at five years among men with early prostate cancer.

The prostate is a gland of the male reproductive system. It produces some of the fluid that transports sperm during ejaculation. After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer diagnosed in men.

Early prostate cancer refers to cancer that has not spread far from the site of origin. Standard treatment for early prostate cancer depends on variables such as a patient’s age, aggressiveness of cancer, and concerns regarding side effects. A large portion of patients with early stage prostate cancer, however, choose to undergo radiation therapy.

Although the outlook for men diagnosed with early prostate cancer is good, and long-term survival can be achieved in a significant portion of patients, a large number of patients also experience cancer recurrences following their treatment. Researchers continue to evaluate ways to improve standard therapies for men with early prostate cancer.

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Researchers from the Netherlands recently conducted a clinical trial to evaluate two different doses of radiation therapy for early prostate cancer. This trial included 664 men who were treated with either higher doses of radiation therapy (78 Gy) or lower doses of radiation therapy (68 Gy)). Patients were followed for a median of 51 months.

  • At five years, 64% of patients treated with higher doses of radiation therapy experienced no progression of cancer compared with 54% treated with lower doses.
  • There were no differences in long-term side effects affecting the genitals or urinary system between the two groups of patients.
  • There were no significant differences in overall survival between the two groups of patients.

The researchers concluded that higher doses of radiation therapy appear to halt cancer progression for a longer period than lower doses among patients with early prostate cancer. However, every patient who decides to undergo radiation therapy should speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of different doses of radiation.

Reference: Peeters S, Heemsbergen W, Koper P, et al. Dose-Response in Radiotherapy for Localized Prostate Cancer: Results of the Dutch Multicenter Randomized Phase III Trial Comparing 68 Gy of Radiotherapy with 78 Gy. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2006; 24: 1990-1996.