Escalating the dose of radiation in prostate cancer treatment may not have a positive long-term effect

Author: talkhealth

Date: Apr 2016

According to the authors of a new study into the effectiveness of different doses of radiation in prostate cancer treatment, a common assumption in prostate cancer treatment – that the ‘highest dose that the body can tolerate will be the most effective at killing cancer’ – may be misguided. The study, which analysed results from 12 different randomized controlled trials, instead found that higher doses of radiation were not associated with better long-term outcomes according to metrics such as overall survival rates.

The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Oncology, included data from a total of 6,884 patients who had been given a treatment called external beam radiation for non-metastatic prostate cancer. The researchers avoided using the usual measurement for patient improvement in cases of prostate cancer (known as the prostate cancer antigen test or PSA), and instead evaluated the effectiveness of the treatments in terms of long-term factors such as rates of development of metastatic cancer and overall rates of death from cancer. On these metrics, the study found no improvement with higher doses of radiation.

Cancer specialist Adam Dicker said that the results show that the prostate cancer antigen test ‘may not [be] as useful as many researchers thought’, a revelation that might have ‘broad implications for the design of future clinical trials and the interpretation of current and previous studies’. Another of the study’s authors, Dr Robert Den, meanwhile, said that the results showed that ‘other therapies may be needed with radiation to increase survival’.

Source: Press Release from Thomas Jefferson University dated 29.03.2016; reportage from ScienceDaily dated 29.03.2016. Full paper available HERE

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