Hormone Therapy May Fight Localized Prostate Cancer

For men with advanced prostate cancer confined to the prostate, radiation treatment along with a six-month program of androgen (male hormone) deprivation therapy can improve survival by as much as 50 percent, researchers report. Androgen deprivation therapy lowers concentrations of testosterone, which experts have long recognized as a powerful stimulator of prostate cancer cell growth. Although hormone therapy is now standard treatment for metastatic prostate cancer, whether it is beneficial in treating prostate cancer still confined to the organ has been less clear. Also unclear was whether short-term hormone therapy might be effective -- most patients now receive the treatment over a period of at least three years. "Finding that we can stop cancerous progression in 40 percent of men by just six months of testosterone suppression treatment with minimal side effects is enormously important," said study author Dr. Jim Denham, from the Trans-Tasman Radiation Oncology Group and University of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia. In their study, Denham's team randomly assigned 818 men with locally advanced prostate cancer to radiation treatment with no testosterone suppression, or three months or six months of testosterone suppression. Reporting in the Oct. 6 early online edition of The Lancet Oncology, the Australian team found that men treated with three months of hormone therapy before and during radiation were at a 35 percent lower risk of relapse compared to men receiving radiation alone. For men treated with six months of hormone therapy before and during radiation, that risk of relapse was reduced by 44 percent.

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