Study questions radiation after prostate removal

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prostate cancerCHICAGO (Reuters) - Using radiation to try to halt the spread of advanced prostate cancer after the gland itself has been surgically removed does not appear to add much to overall survival rates, a study said on Tuesday.

About a third of the 230,000 cases of prostate cancer diagnosed in the United States each year result in removal of the gland, and of those the cancer has spread in 38 to 52 percent of patients, said the report from the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.

For the past four decades, radiation treatments have often been used in cases where the cancer has spread but the effect of such therapy on survival has not been tracked, said the report published in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association.

The Texas researchers said they looked at 425 men with cancer beyond the prostate after the gland had been removed from 1988 to 1997. About half of the men were treated with radiation beam therapy and the others were not.

At the end of the study 71 in the radiation group had died compared to 83 in the non-radiation group, a difference not considered significant, the study said.

In another prostate-related study in the same issue, researchers at the Urological Sciences Research Foundation and the University of California, Los Angeles, reported that testosterone treatments to combat what is sometimes called male menopause do not appear to complicate prostate problems also common in older men.

The finding was based on 44 men with low blood levels of testosterone, some of whom were given injections of the hormone while others received an inert substance.

After six months of treatment, no changes were observed in their prostates or in cancer incidence or severity and there were only slight changes in urination-related problems, said the study.

"These preliminary data suggest that in aging men with late-onset hypogonadism (reduced secretion of hormones from sex glands), six months of testosterone replacement therapy normalizes serum androgen levels but appears to have little effect on prostate tissue androgen levels and cellular functions," the report said.

It added that establishing safety generally would require tests on a larger scale.

Blood testosterone levels decline with age, and many older men may as a result suffer depression, sexual dysfunction, diminished lean body mass, muscle volume and strength and reduced bone mineral density -- changes that have sometimes been called male menopause, the study said.

source - Reuters 

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