Mitchell S. Anscher, MD

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Comparing Radical Prostatectomy and Brachytherapy for Localized Prostate Cancer

September 1st 2004

Radical prostatectomy and ultrasound-guided transperinealbrachytherapy are both commonly used for the treatment of localizedprostate cancer. No randomized trials are available to compare thesemodalities. Therefore, the physician must rely on institutional reportsof results to determine which therapy is most effective. While some investigatorshave concluded that both therapies are effective, others haveconcluded that radical prostatectomy should remain the gold standardfor the treatment of this disease. This article reviews the major seriesavailable for both treatments and discusses the major controversiesinvolved in making these comparisons. The data indicate that for lowriskdisease, both treatments are effective, controlling disease in over80% of the cases, with no evidence to support the use of one treatmentover the other. Similarly, for intermediate-risk disease, the conclusionthat one treatment is superior to the other cannot be drawn. Brachytherapyshould be performed in conjunction with external-beam radiationtherapy in this group of patients. For patients with high-risk disease,neither treatment consistently achieves biochemical control rates above50%. Although radical prostatectomy and/or brachytherapy may playa role in the care of high-risk patients in the future, external-beamradiation therapy in combination with androgen deprivation has thebest track record to date.