Intensity-modulated radiation therapy for localized prostate cancer yields fewer side effects than other radiation treatments

Research Activities, November 2012, No. 387

Men with localized prostate cancer who received intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) experienced fewer side effects than similar patients treated with two other forms of radiation therapy, according to a new study. Prostate cancer is the most common malignancy in men, accounting for more than 240,000 new diagnoses and 30,000 deaths each year. Advances in treatment technology have led to the development of newer, but more costly, treatments. For example, between 2000 and 2008, the use of IMRT rose from 0.15 percent to 95.9 percent in relation to the older technique of conformal radiation therapy (conformal RT).

The researchers compared 6,666 men who received IMRT with 6,310 who received conformal RT. The men treated using IMRT were 9 percent less likely to be diagnosed with gastrointestinal problems than those treated with conformal RT, 22 percent less likely to experience hip fracture, and 19 percent less likely to receive additional cancer therapy. However, the men treated with IMRT were 12 percent more likely to be diagnosed with erectile dysfunction. When the researchers compared 684 men treated with IMRT and 684 treated with proton therapy, patients treated with IMRT were 34 percent less likely to be diagnosed with gastrointestinal problems, but were as likely to experience other side effects or undergo additional therapies as those treated with proton therapy.

The findings were based on analysis of the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results data from 16 regional cancer registries, linked to Medicare administrative and health care claims (the SEER–Medicare database) for 2000 through 2007. The study was funded in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (Contract No. 290-05-0040).

More details are in "Intensity-modulated radiation therapy, proton therapy, or conformal radiation therapy and morbidity and disease control in localized prostate cancer," by Nathan C. Sheets, M.D., Gregg H. Goldin, M.D., Anne-Marie Meyer, PhD, and others in the April 18, 2012, Journal of the American Medical Association 307(15), pp. 1611-1620.

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Current as of November 2012
Internet Citation: Intensity-modulated radiation therapy for localized prostate cancer yields fewer side effects than other radiation treatments: Research Activities, November 2012, No. 387. November 2012. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. https://archive.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/12nov/1112RA23.html