American Cancer Society. Radiation therapy for prostate cancer. January 2013.
Radiation therapy is best used as an early treatment for a lower-grade cancer that is confined within the prostate gland. The survival rates are similar to the results of radical prostatectomy. Radiation therapy treatments can also be used along with hormone therapy as a first step in treating prostate cancer that has spread outside of the prostate gland to nearby tissues. External beam radiation therapy can be focused on the prostate gland; therefore, reducing the radiation exposure to the surrounding healthy tissues. This may increase survival rates over other forms of prostate cancer treatments.
National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health. September 2012
Clinical trials show that external-beam radiation therapy (EBRT) does not seem to improve the survival rate of prostate cancer, but it does help to stop the progression of the disease. One such trial “showed an increased progression-free survival at 4 years for patients with a 15% estimated risk of lymph node involvement who received whole-pelvic radiation therapy as compared with prostate-only radiation therapy…” With this in mind, radiation therapy treatments should be delayed 4 to 6 weeks after a TURP procedure in order to reduce incidence of stricture.
Stevens, G; Firth, I. Audit in radiation therapy: long-term survival and cost of treatment. National Institute of Health. Feb. 1997
A study was conducted by the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, Australia that compared the survival rates of 580 patients with malignant cancer who underwent a variety of cancer treatment in 1988. The median survival period of these patients was 12.4 months. The overall 5-year survival rate was 27%. Of these patients, 105 were treated with radiation therapy. The median survival rate of these patients was 26 months with a 5-year survival rate of 40%. For 149 patients treated with adjuvant radiation therapy, the 5-year survival rate was 62%, but the median survival rate could not be reached. Roughly 279 of these patients received palliative treatments, and the median and 5-year survival rate figures were 5.2 months and 3%.
The cost per month of survival for all patients with malignancy was calculated in Australian dollars and came to $A67. For patients with radiation, adjuvant, and palliative treatments, those costs came to $A74, $A48, and $A105, respectively. In summary, The cost of radiation treatment per field was comparable to other similar reports, and so it was decided that radiation therapy was a cost-effective cancer treatment option.