Radiation treatment after prostate removal significantly improves survival in men with advanced prostate cancer

SAN ANTONIO (Jan. 19, 2009) — Each year, about 100,000 men with advanced prostate cancer undergo surgery to remove their prostate gland (radical prostatectomy). Long-term studies have found that cancer recurs in 30 percent to 40 percent of men after surgery, most often in those tumors that have spread microscopically outside the prostate.

Now, a long-term study led by Ian M. Thompson, M.D., professor and chairman of urology at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, shows that followup radiation treatments (adjuvant radiotherapy) dramatically improve outcomes. The findings of this study that began over 20 years ago will be published in the March 2009 issue of The Journal of Urology®.

“There are probably no more than 20 or so studies in the 40 years of urologic cancer research that have confirmed a treatment improves cure rates. This study is one of those few,” notes Dr. Thompson, who treats patients at the Cancer Therapy and Research Center at the UT Health Science Center.

“Adjuvant radiotherapy within 18 weeks after radical prostatectomy in a man with advanced prostate cancer significantly improves survival and significantly reduces the risk of PSA recurrence, metastasis and the need for hormonal therapy,” he says.
Specifically, the risk of cancer spread, or metastasis, was reduced by 29 percent. Survival improved by 28 percent and men’s risk of a detectable PSA blood test after surgery, often the first evidence of disease recurrence, was reduced by 58 percent and delayed by more than seven years.

The study, initiated in 1988, enrolled 425 men from the United States and Canada including a number of men from San Antonio who had locally-advanced prostate cancer (tumor microscopically outside the prostate found after surgery). Data were most recently evaluated in 2008 and, on average, men were followed about 13 years.

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is the leading research institution in South Texas and one of the major health sciences universities in the world. With an operating budget of $668 million, the Health Science Center is the chief catalyst for the $16.3 billion biosciences and health care sector in San Antonio’s economy. The Health Science Center has had an estimated $36 billion impact on the region since inception and has expanded to six campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. More than 25,600 graduates (physicians, dentists, nurses, scientists and other health professionals) serve in their fields, including many in Texas. Health Science Center faculty are international leaders in cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, aging, stroke prevention, kidney disease, orthopaedics, research imaging, transplant surgery, psychiatry and clinical neurosciences, pain management, genetics, nursing, dentistry and many other fields. For more information, visit www.uthscsa.edu.

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