Press Room in Boston (617)
For Release: October 24, 2000
Study Shows Low-Risk Patients Don't Benefit from Hormonal Therapy
Higher-risk prostate-cancer patients receiving radiation therapy are more likely to beat the disease when hormonal therapy is added to the treatment plan, a new study shows.
An examination of 974 men -- whose cancer was classified as low-risk, intermediate-risk or high-risk -- found that the five-year survival rate among patients with advanced-stage cancer improved from 56 percent to 89 percent when short-course hormonal therapy supplemented radiation therapy.
"If you look at specific sub-groups of patients, the intermediate - and high-risk patients did benefit from the addition of hormones while the low-risk did not benefit at all," according to Patrick Kupelian, M.D., at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, OH. "So as far as we can tell, giving hormones to low-risk patients only adds toxicity to the treatment," he said. "Considering the cost of the treatment and its potential side effects, such as hot/cold flashes and loss of libido, hormonal therapy shouldn't be offered as an option for those low risk patients," he says.
The patients under study, all with localized prostate cancer, were treated with external beam radiation therapy between 1986 and 1999.
Of the 974 patients, 247 -- or 25 percent -- received hormones. The therapy lasted no more than six months - a limitation imposed to avoid subjecting the patients to long-term side effects, including anemia, loss of muscle mass, fatigue, permanent hot flashes, and fragility of bones, says Dr. Kupelian.
The side effects, both short-term and long-term, and the resulting uncertainty over when and how long to use the hormonal therapy prompted the study.
The study was presented October 24, at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology annual meeting in Boston, MA.