Older men with prostate cancer may live longer if they receive a combination therapy of radiation and hormone therapy, but many men do not get the right treatment, according to US researchers. The combination therapy saved nearly 50 percent more lives among men aged 76 to 85 with locally advanced prostate cancer, compared to those who received only hormone therapy.
The researchers said that locally advanced prostate cancer occurs when cancer has spread outside but near the prostate gland, making for more aggressive tumors that are prone to metastasize and become fatal. Previous research has shown that about 40 percent men with aggressive prostate cancer are treated only with hormone therapy, suggesting there is a significant group of people who could benefit from radiation therapy.
31,541 men with prostate cancer, ranging in age from 65 to 85 years, were part of the study. After 7-years of follow-up it was seen that men aged 76 to 85 and who got the radiation plus hormone therapy saw 49 percent fewer deaths than those on hormone therapy alone. The younger age group, 65 to 75, also benefited from combination therapy, seeing 57 percent fewer deaths than in those who received just hormone therapy.
Lead author Justin Bekelman said, "Failure to use effective treatments for older patients with cancer is a health care quality concern in the United States. Radiation plus hormone therapy is such a treatment for men with aggressive prostate cancers. The combination therapy has minimal side effects and is both tolerable and effective in curing prostate cancer."
Bekelman urged patients to talk with their doctors, and called on physicians to reduce the use of hormone therapy alone.
The study is published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.