Hormone therapy boosts prostate cancer survival
Just six months of hormone therapy, along with radiation, cuts the risk of dying from locally advanced prostate cancer in half when compared to radiation alone.
Just as important, a short course of hormone therapy has few of the side effects seen with longer treatment regimens of two to three years. Hormone therapy in men, also known as androgen-deprivation therapy, lowers levels of the male hormones that encourage prostate cancer to grow.
A halving of the risk of dying from these more advanced prostate cancers clearly has very major significance for men affected. Early diagnosis of prostate cancer remains the goal, but at least men presenting with more advanced tumours can now be offered treatment proven to have a much better chance of cure.
As part of the Trans-Tasman Radiation Oncology Group trial, researchers in New Zealand randomly assigned 802 men with locally advanced prostate cancer to radiation alone, or three months of hormone therapy plus radiation, or six months of hormone therapy and radiation.
Over an average of 10.6 years of follow-up, men who received six months of hormone therapy and radiation were found to be significantly less likely to die from prostate cancer than men who had radiation alone - 11 percent vs. 22 percent, respectively. They were also much less likely to die from any cause - 29 percent vs. 43 percent, the researchers found. Hormone therapy over three months had no effect on the spread of prostate cancer, or dying from the cancer or any other cause, compared with radiation alone. Compared to a six-month bout of the hormone therapy, androgen-deprivation therapy over an extended period can result in serious side effects, including erectile dysfunction, hot flashes, fatigue, osteoporosis, high cholesterol, anaemia and cardiac death.
The above study with locally advanced prostate cancers has shown that adding just six months of hormone treatment to radiotherapy halves the numbers of deaths from prostate cancer in the next 10 years.
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