A team of researchers from UCLA has found that shorter radiation therapy could have the potential to treat prostate cancer, especially in low-to-moderately-aggressive tumors.
Stereotactic Treatment Cuts Time By a Wide Margin
According to this new study, which was recently published in JAMA Network Open, using stereotactic body radiotherapy on patients with either low-to-moderate-risk prostate cancer diagnoses is just as effective as a standard round of radiation therapy. However, the major difference here is that stereotactic radiotherapy is effective after a round of just four to five days — which compares overwhelmingly favorably to the usual nine weeks standard radiotherapy can take.
Why is stereotactic body radiotherapy so effective? The secret lies in the concentration of the radiation doses patients receive. SBR, which has been in use since around 2000, involves using ultra-concentrated radiation specifically to cut the length of time needed to administer a full round of treatment. Concerns for the safety of patients has led to a slow adoption rate when it comes to SBR, but part of the new research revealed that not only is stereotactic body radiotherapy much more effective than traditional radiotherapy, using SBR may cause fewer side effects as well.
Researchers Find New Benefits
In the new study, researchers followed more than 2100 patients across a number of institutions that had been diagnosed with either low- or medium-risk prostate cancer between 2000 and 2012. All of these men were treated with SBR, and the results were clear: recurrence rates among these patients were in-line with those that were treated with standard rounds of nine-week-long traditional radiotherapy.
Additionally, with an average follow-up rate of nearly 7 years per patient, researchers found no evidence that the high-intensity radiation doses that characterize SBR led to higher toxicity rates when compared to traditional radiotherapy. With such dramatically shorter treatment times, this translated to much less severe side effects such as nausea and fatigue.
The Future of Radiation Treatment
Based on this study’s results, stereotactic body radiotherapy is likely to come increasingly into use for men who have been diagnosed with low-to-intermediate-risk prostate cancer. Thanks to the lessened impact on the lives of prostate cancer patients that SBR has, and the fact that this sacrifices none of the effectiveness of radiotherapy in these cases, the future of radiation treatment on low risk prostate cancers appears to be poised to be much more tolerable in the long run.