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Originally published October 20 2013

High-dose radiation for prostate cancer worsens patient outcomes

by Ethan A. Huff, staff writer

(NaturalNews) The alleged benefits of higher-dose radiation therapy for prostate cancer did not pan out in a new study recently published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Researchers from the University of Miami found that, contrary to what many had hoped, hypofractionated radiation therapy, or escalated-dose radiation therapy at fewer intervals, did not significantly reduce rates of biochemical and/or clinical disease failure, meaning it did not improve patients' overall conditions or survival rates.

Dr. Alan Pollack, M.D., Ph.D., and his colleagues compared the effects of hypofractionated radiation therapy with standard radiation therapy on a group of 307 men with prostate cancer. Each of the men were randomly assigned to one of two groups and studied throughout the course of his respective treatment. The trial took place at five different U.S. cancer centers and involved men with localized prostate cancer treated with intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT).

The study's original hypothesis postulated that increasing the standard radiation dose beyond the conventional 76 gray units (Gy) administered in 2-Gy fractions by means of IMRT would reduce the frequency of biochemical and clinical disease relapse in men with prostate cancer treated by radiation therapy. But after assigning the various protocols and looking at the end results, the researchers did not arrive at their anticipated results.

"We designed the randomized trial ... to test whether increasing the radiation therapy dose ... using hypofractionation would significantly reduce biochemical and/or clinical disease failure," wrote the authors in their paper. "Because there was no statistically significant difference between the treatment arms in biochemical and/or clinical disease failure, the results are not sufficient to reject the null hypothesis."

Beyond this, those men who received the higher-dose treatment at fewer intervals may actually have been at a recovery disadvantage. According to gathered data, a substantial portion of men who already had compromised urinary function, the result of so-called "frequency-urgency" syndrome, fared worse on the expanded treatment. Though both groups experienced worse urinary symptoms at the conclusion of the study, men who received hypofractionated IMRT had a significantly higher incidence of late genitourinary (GU) adverse effects compared to conventionally treated patients.

"The incidence of late toxicity did not differ between protocols, but hypofractionated therapy worsened urinary function in men who had urinary problems at baseline," writes Charles Bankhead for MedPage Today about the findings.

Higher-dose radiation for prostate cancer a failure; men should stick with traditional therapy or look for alternatives

What this means is that longstanding assumptions about the benefits of higher-dose radiation therapy for prostate cancer are spurious and that men with prostate cancer are better off either sticking with traditional therapy or seeking out alternative therapies. The findings also call into question the widespread presumption that prostate cancer tumors will respond more positively to higher doses of radiation in general.

"Considering all of the information to date, it might not be prudent to move from the current standard of 1.8 to 2 Gy," wrote Dr. W. Robert Lee, M.D., M.S., a professor of radiation oncology at the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, in an accompanying editorial about the study. "[T]here is simply no strong evidence that moderate hypofractionation is superior to conventional fractionation."

To learn more about natural ways to help prevent and treat prostate cancer, be sure to check out the NaturalNews story archive:

There is also a plethora of emerging research that shows all-natural cannabis, also known as marijuana, can help fight and even cure prostate and other forms of cancer without causing harmful side effects:

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