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Addition of radiation therapy to rectal, prostate cancer treatments studied

-- Beth Gilbert

Friday, October 29, 2010 (Last Updated: 11/01/2010)

FRIDAY, Oct. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Radiation therapy appears to reduce recurrence rates when added to surgical treatment of rectal cancer and to increase survival when added to medical management of prostate cancer, and a highly targeted radiation approach may reduce gastrointestinal complications associated with prostate cancer treatment, according to three studies to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology, held from Oct. 31 to Nov. 4 in San Diego.

Corrie A. Marijnen M.D., of the Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands, and colleagues randomized 1,861 patients with resectable rectal cancer to short-term radiation (5 × 5 Gy radiotherapy) prior to total mesorectal excision (TME) or TME alone. The investigators found that the 10-year local recurrence rate was significantly lower among those who underwent radiation and TME compared to those who underwent TME alone (6.4 versus 13.3 percent).

In a phase III study, Malcolm D. Mason, M.D., of Cardiff University in the United Kingdom, and colleagues found that prostate cancer patients treated with a combination of external beam radiation treatment and lifelong androgen deprivation (ADT) who were at a high risk of local recurrence experienced substantial benefits in overall survival and disease-specific survival compared to those who received lifelong ADT alone. In another study, researchers found that intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) was associated with fewer gastrointestinal complications than conventional three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy.

"Our study shows there is a benefit for men with prostate cancer to receive IMRT over conventional treatment in terms of gastrointestinal side effects. But there is no difference between the two treatments in terms of urinary side effects," Justin Bekelman, M.D., of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, lead author of the third study, said in a statement.

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