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Brachytherapy Outcomes Improved with Higher Radiation Dose: Study

For many of the 180,000 American men likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer in the coming year, a procedure known as brachytherapy might offer them the edge they need to beat the disease. Although considered highly successful in treating prostate cancer, new research shows that long-term outcomes tend to be better when brachytherapy includes higher radiation doses.

The study in question involved more than 1,700 men who were treated with brachytherapy. These men were followed for about 9.5 years on average after treatments. The study includes men with low-, intermediate- and high-risk cancers. Some were treated with brachytherapy alone, but others also received hormone therapy and in some cases external beam radiation. Overall, the long-term survival rates were better in those who received a higher dose of radiation in brachytherapy.

Brachytherapy is a highly targeted treatment option that is designed to kill cancer cells while sparing as much of the nearby healthy tissue as possible. This procedure calls for the implantation of tiny radioactive pellets directly into a prostate cancer tumor itself. In lower risk cases, a low dose of radiation is used and the pellets are implanted during an outpatient procedure. For more complex cases, higher doses of radiation and a slightly more involved procedure is required, which may also call for hospitalization.

Prostate seed implants have been used in the treatment of cancer for years. This nonsurgical option does have some associated risks, but they tend to be much lower than surgery and other forms of treatment. Men are generally considered eligible for treatment with this form of targeted radiation if they have low to moderate risk tumors. The treatment is preferred by some men and their doctors because it does lower the likelihood of lasting side effects while offering a proven way to potentially beat cancer.

Men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer should talk to their doctors about all treatment options. The best course of action will depend on factors unique to a man’s case.

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