Westmont, IL, August 27, 2009 – For years, the debate has been ongoing regarding the best treatment method for prostate cancer patients. Now, two independent studies have reached similar conclusions. Already considered a good option for prostate cancer patients, brachytherapy (radiation seed implants) now has the backing of research from The Prostate Cancer Foundation of Chicago and The Taussig Cancer Center at Cleveland Clinic, proving a superior disease-free survival rate for patients with early stage prostate cancer.
In an eleven-year study, the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Chicago, a non-profit organization that funds patient support programs, clinical research and public education, analyzed 9,137 patients treated for prostate cancer at the Chicago Prostate Center in Westmont, Il. From October 1997 to October 2008, patients underwent prostate brachytherapy to treat their cancer. 67.5% of the patients were regarded as low risk, 29.36% as intermediate risk, and 1.01% as high risk.
Of those patients, overall cure rates were 96%, 84%, and 75% for low, intermediate, and high risk patients, respectively. When combined with external beam radiation therapy in intermediate and high risk patients, the brachytherapy results far exceed those of surgery.
The Taussig Cancer Center at The Cleveland Clinic has released their similar 2008 outcomes, demonstrating brachytherapy to be superior to surgery in all cases. For low risk prostate cancer patients, the study found a 95% survival rate after five years; intermediate risk an 89% rate; high risk 71%. This research concluded that, for low risk patients, brachytherapy was equally successful as external beam radiation, but more successful than a radical prostatectomy.
Michelle Braccioforte, Research Director at the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Chicago, explains, “There is a misconception that removing the prostate completely results in 100% cure, which is not true. Not any one treatment is ever 100% successful, but brachytherapy has excellent cure rates, is a one-time, outpatient procedure, and is the most cost-effective.”
In addition to its effectiveness, brachytherapy is a minimally invasive treatment. It involves the implantation of radioactive seeds directly at the source of the cancer. Delivered by a needle and guided by ultrasound, the seeds destroy the DNA within the cancerous cell – effectively killing the tumor. Patients with prostate cancer in the T1 or T2 stages (meaning the cancer hasn’t spread beyond the prostate) choose brachytherapy for a number of reasons:
- No incisions, minimal pain and blood loss
- Urinary incontinence rates less than 1% – compared to 10% with surgery
- 6-25% chance of sexual dysfunction following procedure – compared to 50% with surgery
- Much lower rates of bowel irritation compared to external beam radiation
- Convenience – one-time procedure done on an outpatient basis which requires no hospital stay, patients are fully recovered and can return to normal activity within a day
- Lower cost compared to external beam radiation and surgery
With prostate cancer success rates on the rise, it is important to note that early detection can make all the difference when fighting prostate cancer. Doctors recommend that men have a yearly PSA test and digital rectal exam starting at age 50 – and age 40 for African-Americans.
Risk factors have been found to include:
- Heredity – Greater risk if a father or brother has had prostate cancer
- Age – Men over 50 are more at risk
- Race – African-American males are more at risk
For more information on the Chicago Prostate Cancer Foundation research, visit www.chicagoprostatefoundation.org. For more information on the Taussig Cancer Center at Cleveland Clinic, visit http://my.clevelandclinic.org/services/radiation_oncology/outcomes.aspx.