NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Implanting tiny radioactive “seeds” in the prostate, a treatment called brachytherapy, may be all that is needed to combat low-risk forms of prostate cancer, new research suggests.
Additional treatments, such as radiation from an external source, known as external beam radiotherapy (EBRT), or reducing testosterone levels, known as androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), may only be necessary for severe forms of the disease. The findings appear in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics.
“The most important part of the work is that low-risk patients do not require (EBRT) or ADT,” Dr. Gregory S. Merrick from Wheeling Hospital, in West Virginia told Reuters Health.
“Unfortunately, a high percentage of low-risk patients unnecessarily receive ADT and some centers recommend supplemental (EBRT) for all patients” regardless of prostate cancer severity, he commented.
Based on preliminary findings, “it also appears that (EBRT) will be proven unnecessary in intermediate-risk patients and once again, ADT is unnecessary in intermediate-risk patients,” Merrick said.
Merrick and colleagues evaluated the benefit of adding EBRT and/or ADT to seed therapy in 227 patients with low-risk prostate cancer, 251 with intermediate-risk prostate cancer, and 190 with high-risk prostate cancer.
As noted, the authors found no evidence that adding EBRT or ADT to seed therapy improved survival in the low-risk group of patients and probably not in the intermediate-risk group either.
For high-risk patients, however, these added therapies did seem to offer a benefit beyond that achieved with seed therapy and the researchers plan to look at this issue further in an upcoming study.