Dr. Anthony Zietman, president of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), says radiation therapy is effective against prostate cancer.
Speaking at the Medicare Evidence Development and Coverage Advisory Committee (MEDCAC) meeting Wednesday, Dr Zietman provided data on how successful radiation therapy was against localized prostate cancer. The meeting focused on the risks, benefits and outcomes of radiation therapy treatments for localized prostate cancer as compared with watchful waiting.
The ASTRO president said techniques as external beam radiation therapy and brachytherapy were effective in treating the disease without significant side effects..
Dr. Zietman, associated with Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University in Boston, acknowledged that it is possible some men are receiving treatments for prostate cancer that would have done well without treatment through watchful waiting or active surveillance. However, doctors currently have little way to tell if a man's prostate cancer will progress to be life-threatening or if it will remain somewhat asymptomatic.
With respect to stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), Dr. Zietman said that the treatment, which pinpoints high doses of radiation to the prostate over a few days instead of several weeks, shows promise as a non-invasive way to cure prostate cancer. However, he cautioned that SBRT needed further study in clinical trials to fully capture survival and quality of life measures.
"Prostate cancer is the number one cancer diagnosed in men. I applaud MEDCAC for studying this important issue and appreciate the opportunity to participate in the forum," Dr. Zietman said.
Primary treatment for localized prostate cancer saves lives, it has been proved by two major randomized controlled trials. So also radiation therapy after initial surgery prolongs survival, he said in his presentation. And further trials have shown a high dose radiation as opposed to conventional dose ensures good outcome.
Clearly then when compared to watchful waiting, radiation therapy is far more effective.
HRD brachytherapy in combination with external radiation is as good as or even superior to conventional dose treatment.
But bracheytherapy may not work in the case of advanced prostate cancer, those with large prostate glands or with poor urinary function, Dr. Zietman warned.