Study: New technique offers alternative to prostate cancer surgery
Web posted at: 7:01 p.m. EDT (2301 GMT)
From Medical Correspondent Dan Rutz
(CNN) -- A new study suggests radiation seed implants are just as effective in treating early stages of prostate cancer as a major operation.
The 10-year study just published in the American Cancer Society journal Cancer says that implanting radioactive materials called seeds in the prostate is an excellent alternative to the standard, surgical removal of the prostate. It's also far less complicated.
Glen Hultquist opted for the implants to avoid a major operation.
"The people with surgery seem to have a long recuperation period," he says. "But with the seeds, you're in and out of the office usually in a day or half a day."
Nearly 200,000 men in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year. Most doctors will recommend surgery for those whose cancer has not spread.
Unlike the seed implants, surgery often results in at least temporary loss of urinary and sexual functions. But veteran prostate surgeon Patrick Walsh of Johns Hopkins University says the study doesn't prove seed implants are better than surgery in curing cancer.
"When you are looking at young men ... the trend at 10 years suggests that there are going to be a lot more failures, whereas with surgery when you look at 10 years, the results are pretty level," he said.
Although the 10-year numbers look good, Walsh says, they also show a relapse trend not seen with men who undergo surgery.
But at a recent international cancer conference in Brazil, the head of the new study said three out of four high-risk patients actually remained free of cancer at 10 years when treated with both the radioactive seeds and standard outside-beam radiation treatments.
"I do not know of any series that has as good a result as 76 percent at 10 years for treating prostate cancer," said Dr. Haakon Ragde of Northwest Hospital in Seattle.
Dr. Vahan Kassabian, an Atlanta urologist who offers the choice between radioactive seed implants and prostate removal, says ultimately it is up to the patient to decide between the pain of surgery and the uncertainty of anything less.
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