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Some Prostate Cancer Patients May Be Undertreated; New Study Shows Increased Radiation Doses Mean Better Outcome

PHILADELPHIA (March 1, 2000) -- Most prostate cancer patients will have a higher cure rate if they are treated with higher doses of radiation, a new study shows. The study was published today in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology and Physics.

The study, conducted at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, PA, of 618 patients found that five year cure rates were improved by 14 - 40 percent depending on the patients' disease extent when the patients were treated with higher doses. These high doses result in the cure of more than 80 percent of all patients with pre-treatment PSA levels of 20 or less.

Higher doses are possible because of three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT), a technique that allows the radiation oncologist to "conform" the radiation to the tumor, thus avoiding some organs and tissues nearby, says Gerald E. Hanks, M.D., Chairman, Department of Radiation Oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center. "Morbidity is very low if 3D-CRT is done," he says.

Yet, in 1998 (the latest year figures are available) only 40 percent of radiation oncology facilities were doing 3D-CRT. The American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO) is planning a series of educational programs designed to teach radiation oncologists nationwide how to appropriately utilize 3D-CRT. "We have the potential to cure more patients; it is essential that we take advantage of that potential," says Dr. Hanks.

The International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology and Physics is the official journal of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO), the largest radiation oncology society in the world, with more than 5,000 members. As a leading organization in radiation oncology, biology and physics, the society's goals are to advance the scientific base of radiation therapy and to extend the benefits of radiation therapy to those with cancer.

Fox Chase Cancer Center, one of the nation's first comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute in 1974, conducts basic and clinical research; programs of prevention, detection and treatment of cancer; and community outreach. For more information about Fox Chase activities, visit the Center's web site at:

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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