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Proton Therapy Effective on Prostate Cancer Treatment

Ernie Shannon's picture
Proton Therapy Treatment of Prostate Cancer

Two separate treatments using proton therapy to treat prostate cancer are showing success among some 400 patients studied during a three-year period.

Researchers at the University of Florida in one study and with Massachusetts General Hospital, Loma Linda University Medical Center, and the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group in Philadelphia, in a second study, say the use of proton therapy is a safe and effective treatment for prostate cancer. Proton therapy is a type of external beam radiation therapy using protons instead of X-rays. The results appear in the January issue of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology-Biology-Physics (Red Journal), the American Society for Radiation Oncology’s (ASTRO) official scientific journal.

The Florida team led by Dr. Nancy Mendenhall of the University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute said that their treatment was effective and that the gastrointestinal and genitourinary side effects were minimal. The genitourinary system includes the reproductive organs and the urinary system.

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“This study is important because it will help set normal tissue guidelines in future trials,” said Mendenhall.

The second study by the trio of research centers varied to some degree by using a combination of proton therapy. Their treatment used protons from X-rays and protons with brachytherapy (radioactive seed implants). This study, called a case-matched analysis, used high-dose external beam radiation therapy. In this case, 196 patients received the external beam treatments during a three-year period and their data was compared to another 203 men in similar stages of prostate cancer who received brachytherapy. Researchers then compared the biochemical failure rates and determined that men who received the proton/photon therapy had the same rate of recurrence as the men who also received brachytherapy.

“For men with prostate cancer, brachytherapy and external beam radiation therapy using photons and protons are both highly effective treatments with similar relapse rates,” said Dr. John J. Coen, a radiation oncologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. “Based on this data, it is our belief that men with prostate cancer can reasonably choose either treatment for localized prostate cancer based on their own concerns about quality of life without fearing they are compromising their chance for a cure.”
Red Journal Editor-in-Chief Anthony L. Zietman, MD, FASTRO, is a co-author on the second study.

Sources: University of Florida; Massachusetts General Hospital; Loma Linda University Medical Center; and the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group.

American Society for Radiation Oncology – www.astro.org