A higher dose of radiotherapy to treat patients with prostate cancer improves cancer control and reduces the need for salvage treatment compared with the results usually obtained with a standard dose of radiotherapy, say researchers in a trial reporting online today in The Lancet Oncology. "The trial is important in emphasising the advantage of higher dose radiotherapy but also the need to continue to improve radiation techniques", says the chief investigator of the trial David Dearnaley of the Institute of Cancer Research and Royal Marsden Hospitals, Sutton, UK.
The researchers randomised 843 patients with prostate cancer to receive either a standard dose of radiotherapy (64 Gy) or an escalated dose of radiotherapy (74 Gy). Dearnaley explains, "the dose increase was made possible by using a new more precise radiation treatment method called conformal radiotherapy".
The researchers found that the high dose of radiotherapy helped prevent the recurrence of prostate cancer, and reduced the need for additional hormone treatment. "However, the higher radiation dose did slightly increase bowel side effects", adds Dearnaley.