Patients with the early stage prostate cancer, who choose radiation, can spend less time getting treatments. New guidelines from three major cancer organizations, recommend a radiation treatment that can be completed in half the time of standard radiation therapy. Currently patients are treated with standard radiation for eight to nine weeks. But the new guidelines say that higher intensity radiation, with the treatment lasting four to five weeks, can now be used.
The recommendations are based on an exhaustive evaluation of the medical studies by a task force from the American Society for Radiation Oncology, American Society of Clinical Oncology and American Urological Association. The task force looked at two kinds of external beam radiation treatment:
- Moderately hypofractionated, which means the doses are higher than the standard radiation. The scientific evidence was strong for use in low-, intermediate-, and high-risk patients
- Extremely hypofractionated, where the dose is even higher, and can be completed in as few as five sessions. But this treatment, was only recommended for low-dose patients. In intermediate- and high-risk patients, only treatment in a clinical trial was recommended.
The task force also recommended the use of image-guided radiation therapy where high quality images are taken before each treatment and recommended against so-called 3-D radiation techniques, a procedure that uses a computer to create a three dimensional picture of the tumor.
Dr. Daniel Barocas, Vanderbilt University Medical Center and guideline co-author said “Image guidance and other advances in radiation therapy delivery have enabled radiation oncologists to treat prostate cancer with a therapeutic dose of radiation in a shorter treatment period than was previously possible.” Barocas added that “results so far show comparable early cancer control to conventional fractionation, while maintaining an acceptable side effect profile. This has benefits to the patient in terms of reducing the treatment burden and cost, and may increase the acceptability of external beam radiation therapy.”
Radiation treatment is one of several options for patients with the early prostate cancer. Patients can also choose surgery or watchful waiting.