Long-term hormone treatment improves prostate cancer survival

November 18, 2005

Treating high-risk prostate cancer patients with radiation therapy in conjunction with hormone therapy for more than 1 year allows patients to live longer and to achieve better PSA control, according to a study from the BC Cancer Agency, Victoria, British Columbia.

Treating high-risk prostate cancer patients with radiation therapy in conjunction with hormone therapy for more than 1 year allows patients to live longer and to achieve better PSA control, according to a study from the BC Cancer Agency, Victoria, British Columbia. The treatment approach also lowers the rate of death specifically from prostate cancer.

In the study, published in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology*Biology*Physics (2005; 63:781-7), 307 patients with a PSA >20.0 ng/mL were split into two groups who were similar in terms of age, Gleason score, and tumor stage. A short-term group consisted of 151 patients receiving hormone therapy for less than 12 months, and a long-term group consisted of 156 patients receiving hormone therapy for more than 12 months. Both groups were treated with hormone therapy and external beam radiation therapy.

In the long-term group, 62.5% of patients showed greater control over their PSA level, compared with 37% in the short-term group. The 5-year overall survival rate was 87.5% for the long-term group and 75% for the short-term group, according to the researchers. The chance of dying of prostate cancer was reduced from 18% to 6% in the long-term group.

“Other randomized trials have shown the benefit of combining radiation and hormone therapy in the treatment of prostate cancer,” said lead author Eric Berthelet, MD. “However, some of those reports appear to be restricted to patients with a high Gleason score. This study proves that long-term hormone therapy used in consort with radiation therapy improves survival rates for high-risk patients, regardless of their Gleason score or tumor stage.”