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16/12/2008

Radiated drugs for prostatic cancer

Drugs with radiation best for prostate cancer
Maria Cheng, Associated Press
Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Treating advanced prostate cancer with radiation and hormone-blocking drugs cut the death rate in half in a study of Scandinavian men, researchers report.

In the United States, the combination has been standard care since the 1990s. But in Europe, many doctors have avoided the combo treatment and used hormone drugs alone, thinking the pair would be too harsh for most patients.

"What this study shows is that men with prostate cancer do benefit from more aggressive therapy," said Dr. Howard Sandler of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and a spokesman for the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, and usually strikes after age 50.

The Scandinavian researchers tracked 875 men with advanced prostate cancer in Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

About half were given hormone-blocking drugs while the other half got the same treatment plus radiation. The drugs block production of testosterone, which feeds cancer cells.

After nearly eight years, 79 men in the hormone only group had died of prostate cancer, compared with 37 in the group that had hormone therapy plus radiation.

The study was published online today by the British medical journal Lancet. It was paid for by various Scandinavian cancer groups, Umea University and the makers of the drugs used in the study, Schering-Plough Corp. (Lupron) and Abbott Laboratories Inc. (Eulexin).

Adding radiation to patients' treatment did come at a cost. After five years, men receiving hormones and radiation reported higher rates of side effects including fatigue, insomnia and sexual problems.

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