NEW YORK, NY -- (Marketwired) -- 06/27/14 -- Important new findings about prostate cancer treatment highlight the increased risk of secondary cancers after radiation therapy. In a recently published study, researchers reported that men who underwent external beam radiation therapy increased their long-term risk of developing rectal cancer by 70 percent and bladder cancer by 40 percent versus the general population. External beam radiation therapy (EBRT) and robotic prostate surgery are leading treatment options for men with prostate cancer.
"For most men, a prostate cancer diagnosis does not open the door to other cancers. With highly effective treatment options like robotic prostate surgery and radiation therapy, the prognosis is very good," David Samadi, MD, Chairman of Urology and Chief of Robotic Surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital said; "but men must be made aware of, and must carefully consider, the short-term and long-term side effects of each option."
As in many other prostate cancer studies, researchers reviewed data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program of population-based cancer registries. This particular study included data from more than 440,000 men who were diagnosed with prostate cancer between 1992 and 2010.
Interestingly, the study found that men with prostate cancer were less likely than the general population to develop secondary cancers overall. However, those that had EBRT were significantly more likely to be diagnosed with bladder or rectal cancer 10 years or more after their prostate cancer diagnosis.
"Unfortunately, side effects are sometimes part of prostate cancer treatment," acknowledged Dr. Samadi. "When men know what to expect, they are prepared to proactively move forward. In general we see short-term urinary and sexual issues with robotic surgery, while radiation tends to bring long-term bowel and bladder problems. The long-lasting quality of life issues associated with radiation require very different patient education."
Earlier this year, a separate study reported that men who chose radiation therapy over robotic prostate surgery faced more significant health risks, including hospital readmissions, cancer recurrence, and bladder and rectal bleeding. Radiation patients were found to be ten times more likely to experience these issues than surgery patients. That study was published in The Lancet Oncology, February 2014, http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanonc/article/PIIS1470-2045%2813%2970606-5/abstract
Researchers in the most recent secondary cancer study point out that EBRT remains a viable and effective prostate cancer treatment option, especially for men who are not surgical candidates.
The results are available online in Cancer, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cncr.28769/abstract
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