Researchers say that radiation therapy, in combination with chemotherapy before prostate removal, has been found safe for cancer patients and may reduce the risk of recurrence.
The research team from Oregon Health and Science University Knight Cancer Institute and the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Centre has shown chemo-radiation combination is feasible and safe and improves survival among prostate cancer patients.
"In men with aggressive prostate cancer, standard therapies such as radiation or surgery often fail to eliminate the cancer completely at the site of treatment. When these cancers recur, they are often fatal," said Dr Mark Garzotto, principal investigator and Associate Professor of Urology and Radiation Medicine in the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute; and Chief of Urologic Oncology in the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
"Novel approaches are needed if we are to make advances in this disease," he added.
For the study, researchers developed a treatment regimen in which radiation and docetaxel were administered together before prostatectomy.
The twelve men were given intensity-modulated radiation therapy and increasing doses of docetaxel for five consecutive weeks, which was followed by surgical removal of the prostate gland.
They found that the participants tolerated the treatment well and were able to undergo surgery without any major complications. Specifically there were no rectal or urethral injuries or blood clots in the legs.
Examination of the tumor tissue after surgery showed the cancer margins, evidence of complete removal of all of the cancer, to be clean in 75 percent of patients, which is higher than was expected.
Also, the PSA, or prostate-specific antigen levels, a predictor of prostate cancer recurrence, were undetectable after treatment in all patients.
"Our study is the first-ever clinical trial in prostate cancer to combine radiation, chemotherapy and surgery given as a combination treatment before prostate surgery to potentially provide higher cure rates than traditional approaches with fewer side effects," said Dr Arthur Hung, M.D., co-investigator and Assistant Professor of Radiation Medicine in the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute.
The findings were presented at 51st annual meeting of the American Society of Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology in Chicago.