A recent study estimates that nearly 30,000 men will die from prostate cancer this year. However, a new study offers hope for these patients: The combination of androgen suppression therapy (hormone therapy) with radiation therapy improves survival rates.
AST inhibits the release of androgen, a male sex hormone. Researchers say that combining three years of AST with radiation therapy has been shown to improve survival rates for prostate cancer patients. However, long-term AST can result in impairment of memory and attention, anemia, prolongation of heart rhythms, muscle loss, impotence, hot flashes, and decreased bone density.
The survival rate of 206 patients after receiving radiation therapy alone or in combination with only six months of AST were examined. Follow-ups were performed at varying intervals for numerous years after treatment. After the midpoint follow-up of 4.5 years, study results show patients who received the combination therapy had significantly higher survival, lower prostate cancer death, and higher survival without recurrence of cancer. Specifically, the survival of the combination group was 88 percent compared to 78 percent in the radiation-only group. Rates of survival without cancer recurrence were 82 percent in the combination group vs. 57 percent in the radiation-only group. Lastly, there were six deaths due to prostate cancer in the radiation-only group and no deaths from prostate cancer in the combination-therapy group.
Thus researchers conclude that a short-term course of AST in prostate cancer patients receiving radiation therapy could minimize the adverse side effects of AST, yet still be sufficient to reduce the risk of death. However researchers say that further studies have to done in order to look into the risks involved in this mode of treatment .