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Study Proves Radiation As Effective As Surgery In Treatment of Prostate Cancer

PHILADELPHIA (May 4, 1999) -- A new study of men with prostate cancer finds radiation treatment to be as effective as surgery. The results help settle a long-standing debate as to the efficacy rates of radiation versus surgery. The study is published in the May 5th issue of The Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA). Radiation oncologist Gerald Hanks, M.D. of Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia is a co-author of the study.

The data was submitted by six institutions including Fox Chase Cancer Center. It was collected from 1,765 men treated between 1988 and 1995 with external beam radiation who had a minimum of two years subsequent follow up. All of the candidates had been treated in the early stages of clinically localized disease (T1 and T2). The survey examined the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) outcome on patients five or more years following treatment. The PSA level was used to assess durability of radiation treatment.

The study found that 81% of patients with a low PSA level (less than 9.2) before they were treated with radiation therapy had no evidence of disease (that is, no consecutively rising PSA levels) five years following radiation treatments. Seventy-four percent of the same group had no evidence of disease nine years following treatments. Sixty-nine percent of patients with an intermediate prognosis of 9.2 - 19.3 PSA level had no evidence of disease five years after treatments and 65% percent showed no progression at nine years.

"There has always been controversy surrounding the efficacy of radiation versus surgery for prostate cancer," says Dr. Hanks. "The results of this study are statistically similar to past studies measuring the effectiveness of surgery. What that means is radiation should be considered a benchmark treatment for prostate cancer patients."

The design of the study was a retrospective, non-randomized, multi-institutional pooled analysis sponsored by The American Society of Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO) and conducted at six medical centers in the United States.

Fox Chase Cancer Center is one of 35 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the nation. The Center's activities include basic and clinical research, prevention, detection and treatment of cancer and community outreach programs.

Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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