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Study Finds Low Oxygen Levels In Recurrent Prostate Cancer

PHILADELPHIA (November 2, 1999) -- Doctors at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia have completed a novel study suggesting why prostate cancer may recur in some men. The findings were presented today at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO) annual conference in San Antonio, Texas.

In the study published recently in Urology, Benjamin Movsas, M.D., radiation oncologist at Fox Chase, has demonstrated the presence of poorly oxygenated cells (hypoxia) in patients with prostate cancer. Using a state of the art instrument (the Eppendorf pO2 microelectrode) that can accurately measure the level of oxygen within tissues, Movsas has shown that hypoxia exists within prostate cancer, but not the neighboring normal muscle. To date, no such measurements have been made in prostate carcinomas.

Previous studies with cervical, head, and neck cancers have shown that cells with low oxygen levels (hypoxia) are more resistant to radiation treatment. The occasional failure of radiation therapy remains an important problem in the treatment of prostate cancer, especially in patients with bulky, locally advanced disease, who comprise approximately 40 to 50 percent of the patient population.

Based on this knowledge, doctors can now study the link between hypoxic cells and the outcome of radiation treatment in terms of local control and subsequent PSA measurements.

"Innovative strategies to combat hypoxia are on the horizon," said Movsas. "Ultimately, the goal is to use those strategies to target patients specifically identified to be at risk for poor outcome for radiation treatment based on their oxygen measurements. Such an innovative approach has not been previously explored in patients with prostate cancer."

Radiation therapy remains equally successful in treating prostate cancer as surgery. Patients interested in this study should call the Fox Chase Cancer Center Department of Radiation Oncology at 215-728-2581.

Fox Chase Cancer Center is one of 36 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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