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According to a recent article published in the International Journal of Radiation, Oncology, Biology, and Physics, the addition of the hormone therapy agent goserelin (Zoladex®) following radiation therapy improves survival in men with locally advanced prostate cancer.

The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that is located between the bladder and rectum. It is responsible for the formation of components of semen. Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men in the United States. Locally advanced prostate cancer refers to cancer that has spread locally outside of the prostate, but has not spread to distant sites in the body. Standard treatment for locally advanced prostate cancer is not uniform, and may include radiation therapy, hormone therapy, surgery and/or cryoablation. Researchers continue to evaluate the most effective treatment combination or sequence of combinations for patients with this stage of disease.

Hormone therapy is a type of therapy that reduces the amount of male hormones produced in the body, particularly testosterone. Prostate cancer cells are stimulated to grow by male hormones, so the reduction of circulating hormones in the body reduces the growth-stimulus for prostate cancer. Goserelin is one agent that is often used as hormone therapy for the treatment of prostate cancer.

Researchers associated with the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) recently conducted a trial, called the RTOG study 85-31, that compared treatment with goserelin once per month directly following radiation therapy or goserelin only at the time of cancer recurrence. This trial included nearly 1,000 patients. At 10 years, patients who were treated with goserelin immediately following radiation therapy had improvements in overall survival, cancer-free survival, the risk of developing cancer spread to distant sites in the body, and the risk of developing progression of prostate cancer near the site of origin.

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The researchers concluded that the addition of hormone therapy, in this case goserelin, directly after radiation therapy improves long-term outcomes in patients with locally advanced prostate cancer compared to administering goserelin after signs of cancer progression. Patients with locally advanced prostate cancer who are to undergo radiation therapy may wish to speak with their physician about their individual risks and benefits of hormone therapy.

Reference: Pilepich MV, Winter K, Lawton CA et al. Androgen suppression adjuvant to definitive radiotherapy in carcinoma of the prostate – Long term results of phase III RTOG 85-31. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2005; 61 (5):1285-1290.

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