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17 November 2005
Continuing Hormone Therapy May Be Key To Beating Prostate Cancer
by George Atkinson

For men with aggressive prostate cancer, the key to a longer life may involve long-term hormone treatment. Canadian doctors have revealed that treating high-risk prostate cancer patients with radiation therapy and continuing hormone therapy for more than one year allows patients to live longer and lowers the rate of death specifically from prostate cancer. Long-term hormone therapy also allows men to have better control of their prostate specific antigen levels, says the study in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, the official journal of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology.

The study looked at over 300 men with a PSA (prostate specific antigen) levels greater than 20 and tumors at a similar stage. The first group received hormone therapy for less than 12 months and the second group received hormone therapy for longer than 12 months. The hormone therapy was used in conjunction with external beam radiation therapy in both groups.

The researchers found that in the long-term hormone therapy group, 62 percent of patients showed a greater control over their PSA level, compared with 37 percent in the short-term group. Additionally, overall five-year survival rates were up to 88 percent for the long-term group and 75 percent in the short-term group. It was also found that the chance of dying of prostate cancer was reduced from 18 percent to 6 percent in the long-term group.

Lead author of the study, Eric Berthelet, from the British Columbia Cancer Agency, said that the study indicated that long-term hormone therapy was a valid course of treatment regardless of tumor stage. "Other randomized trials have shown the benefit of combining radiation and hormone therapy in the treatment of prostate cancer. This study proves that long-term hormone therapy used in consort with radiation therapy improves survival rates for high-risk patients, regardless of their... tumor stage."

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