Medical Isotope Treatment for Prostate Cancer Gives Survival Rates Equal to Surgery with Fewer Side Effects

The latest and most comprehensive research analysis to date comparing treatment options for prostate cancer demonstrates the effectiveness of medical isotope ("seed") treatments. The analysis, presented at the May 2000 meeting of the American Brachytherapy Society, compared nine separate landmark studies involving 6877 prostate cancer patients receiving surgery, external beam radiation or brachytherapy (medical isotope "seeds"). It found equal 5 year survival rates for them all.

Centers involved in the comparative studies included Baylor University, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Wayne State University, William Beaumont Hospital, Seattle Prostate Institute, and Arizona Oncology Center. For the first time, common definitions of patient outcomes and classification of tumors were used to compare all modalities on a level playing field. With equal outcomes for surgery or brachytherapy, patients with cancer detected early can weigh treatment options based on such factors as cost, possibility of side effects and length of incapacitation at treatment.

Brachytherapy utilizes tiny "seeds" carrying medical isotopes that are implanted into the tumor. This radiation travels no further than a millimeter. Modern body-imaging technology guides precise placement of the seeds so cancer cells are eliminated while surrounding healthy tissue is spared. The procedure can be done on an outpatient basis under spinal anesthesia and normally lasts about 50 minutes. This simple treatment appears to cure prostate cancer in 85% of patients with localized tumors at approximately half the cost of conventional prostate surgery.

In the 1980s, Dr.Haakon Ragde's breakthrough research in accurate seed placement provided the final link to a treatment idea that actually began in the early 1900's. Dr. Ragde is now recognized as a world expert in brachytherapy treatment for prostate cancer.

Brachytherapy, the new medical isotope treatment for prostate cancer, is minimally invasive, less debilitating and less costly than surgery. While it is not the best treatment option for every prostate cancer patient, this analysis demonstrates it should not be disregarded based on fears about its effectiveness. It stands as an example of new medical isotope treatments changing the future of cancer treatment.

Posted Aug 12, 2001

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