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Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy May Offer a Higher Cure Rate in Prostate Cancer Than More Traditional Approaches

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Key Points

  • The study found a 98.6% cure rate with SBRT.
  • In addition to shorter treatment times, researchers found that side effects were not necessarily different compared to other forms of prostate cancer treatment.
  • Decrease in erectile function was seen in 25% of patients, fewer than with conventional radiation or surgery.

A 5-year study published by Hannan et al in the European Journal of Cancer showed that stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) to treat prostate cancer offers a higher cure rate than more traditional approaches, according to researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center. The study found a 98.6% cure rate with SBRT.

“The high cure rate is striking when compared to the reported 5-year cure rates from other approaches like surgery or conventional radiation, which range between 80% and 90%, while the side effects of this treatment are comparable to other types of treatment,” said Raquibul Hannan, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology at UT Southwestern. “What we now have is a more potent and effective form of completely noninvasive treatment for prostate cancer, conveniently completed in five treatments.”

Traditional Approaches

Conventional treatment options for early-stage prostate cancer include prostatectomy, brachytherapy, and external-beam radiation, which involves 42 to 45 treatments administered over 2 or more months, 5 days a week.

“The current form of radiation is 44 treatments given over 9 weeks. In contrast, the SBRT therapy we used allows the delivery of highly focused radiation in only five treatments, allowing patients to return to their normal lives more quickly,” said Robert Timmerman, MD, Director of the Annette Simmons Stereotactic Treatment Center at UT Southwestern, and Professor and Vice Chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology. “SBRT is both more convenient and has increased potency.”

Study Findings

The multi-institutional clinical trial involved first-time patients diagnosed with stage I or stage II (low- and intermediate-risk) prostate cancer. A total of 91 patients were treated prospectively and followed for 5 years, with only one patient experiencing a recurrence of his cancer.

In addition to shorter treatment times, researchers found that side effects were not necessarily different compared to other forms of prostate cancer treatment. In the short term, the side effects of SBRT can include urinary issues (urgency, frequency, and burning) and rectal irritation, which are often temporary and reverse within 4 weeks of treatment. Researchers found a small risk of longer-term urinary and rectal complications, which is also comparable to conventional treatments. Decrease in erectile function was seen in 25% of patients, fewer than with conventional radiation or surgery, said Dr. Hannan.

Other clinical trials at the UT Southwestern Department of Radiation Oncology are seeking to expand the application of SBRT to high-risk (stage III) prostate cancer patients. “Our hope is that the high potency of this form of treatment will significantly improve treatment of these patients,” said Dr. Hannan, the principal investigator of the high-risk prostate SBRT trial.

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.


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