Short-term hormone therapy slows prostate cancer
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - New research suggests that two months of "androgen deprivation" therapy, which reduces levels of the androgen, a male hormone, can help slow the growth of locally advanced prostate cancer when given before and during radiotherapy. Plus, the short course of androgen deprivation therapy does not increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease, which had been a concern.
"The benefits of short-term hormonal therapy for men receiving radiation therapy for prostate cancer far outweigh the risks," lead author Dr. Mack Roach, from the University of California at San Francisco, said in a statement.
As reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the researchers assessed the outcomes of 456 men with prostate cancer who were randomly assigned to receive radiotherapy alone or in combination with androgen deprivation therapy.
The androgen deprivation therapy included goserelin (every 4 weeks) and flutamide (3-times daily) given before and during radiotherapy.
The overall survival rates after 10 years were 43 percent with the combination regimen and 34 percent with radiotherapy alone; the corresponding average survival times were 8.7 and 7.3 years. Still, the authors point out that none of these differences were statistically significant.
The combination therapy, however, did result in a statistically significant improvement in mortality from prostate cancer after 10 years, at 23 percent compared with 36 percent in the radiation therapy-only group.
The rates of metastatic disease -- cancer spread to distant parts of the body -- (35 percent vs. 47 percent) and disease-free survival (11 percent vs. 3 percent) were also significantly improved in the combination therapy group.
Furthermore, adding androgen deprivation therapy to radiotherapy did not increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease, the findings indicate.
"While four months of hormonal therapy isn't enough to cause significant side effects, we found that it can delay the development of bone metastasis by as many as 8 years, which is very significant," Roach stated.
SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Oncology, online January 2, 2008.