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Radiation and Short-Term Androgen Deprivation Create a Winning Combination

Men who are diagnosed with intermediate-risk prostate cancer may soon find their doctors recommending a two-step treatment approach. Researchers have found that short-term androgen deprivation therapy in conjunction with radiotherapy produces superior results to radiation alone. The study, in fact, revealed that those given the two-step approach had significantly higher disease-free survival rates at a median follow-up of 6.5 years.

Androgen deprivation therapy involves the suppression of androgen hormones. These hormones, which include testosterone, are used as fuel by prostate cancer cells. By depriving the fuel needed to promote cancer growth, androgen deprivation therapy can effectively slow the disease’s progression for a time. It is not considered a cure on its own, however. Radiation, however, is designed to target prostate cancer cells and effectively kill them off. In higher risk cases, however, radiation alone may not produce the desired long-term results. The combination of two therapies may offer hope in changing that.

An estimated 180,000 American men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year. Some 26,000 men die each year from the disease. While a wide variety of treatments are available for low-risk forms of the disease, more aggressive forms of prostate cancer can prove to be difficult to treat. The androgen and radiation combination, however, may offer hope for improved outcomes at least in intermediate-risk cases.

All men are at risk for the development of prostate cancer. This disease is most commonly diagnosed in men later in life with the average age at time of diagnosis about 66. Early detection and treatment of this disease can greatly increase survival chances and open the door for a variety of potential treatment options.

Men are urged to discuss prostate cancer and their personal risks with their healthcare providers. Routine screening should typically begin around the age of 50, but individual risk factors may indicate a need to start screening sooner.

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