Fox Chase/Stanford Study: Radiation Therapy Effective in Treating Younger Men with Early-Stage Prostate Cancer

April 1, 1996

Researchers at two major medical centers have found that radiation therapy is just as successful as surgery in treating younger men with early-stage prostate cancer. Currently, men 60 years old or under with prostate cancer are far more likely to be treated with surgery than with radiation therapy.

Researchers at two major medical centers have found that radiationtherapy is just as successful as surgery in treating younger menwith early-stage prostate cancer. Currently, men 60 years oldor under with prostate cancer are far more likely to be treatedwith surgery than with radiation therapy.

The two studies were conducted at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphiaand Stanford University Medical Center, Stanford, California.Results were presented at the annual meeting of the American Societyfor Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO) in Miami Beach,Florida.

Fox Chase Study

In the Fox Chase study, cure rates were analyzed for 459 men withearly-stage prostate cancer treated only with radiation therapy.Those men under the age of 60 have done as well as the older menup to 5 years after treatment, according to radiation oncologistsDrs. Gerald Hanks and Gary Freedman, research team members.

Dr. Freedman said that, based on the study results, "radiationtherapy shouldn't be discounted as a treatment for early-stageprostate cancer simply because the patient is a younger man."

Nationwide, from 1984 to 1991 the number of men under the ageof 70 with early-stage prostate cancer undergoing surgery rosefrom 22% to 57%, while the number of men having radiation therapydeclined from 35% to 21%, according to Dr. Freedman. "Ourstudy adds to the body of evidence that radiation therapy offersan equal chance for cure as surgery in the treatment of early-stageprostate cancer."

Based on the results of the Fox Chase study, he added, "webelieve that men of any age can be offered various treatment optionsincluding radiation therapy."

Stanford Study

In the Stanford study, meanwhile, patients age 60 or younger withearly-stage prostate cancer who were treated with radiation alsodid as well--or better in many cases--than older men treated inthe same manner. Overall, 396 early-stage prostate cancer patients--110of them age 60 or under--were studied.

The study was based on an average follow-up of 18 years, accordingto radiation oncologist Dr. Joseph Poen, a research team member."Our study results contradict arguments that radiation therapyonly controls prostate cancer for a limited period of time,"he maintained.

Dr. Poen said that some physicians believe that younger men whowould normally have a life expectancy greater than 10 years requiresurgery for lasting control of the disease. As a result of thisbelief, most younger patients have been referred for radical prostatectomy.But the fact is, the Stanford study shows that radiation therapydoes have long-lasting positive results in treating early-stageprostate cancer, he said.