"The time between initial diagnosis and external-beam radiation therapy can be delayed for various reasons," explained the study's lead author, Stephen F. Andrews, D.O., chief resident in the Fox Chase radiation oncology department. Some of the reasons for delay, Andrews said, include the belief by many physicians that all prostate cancer is slow-growing, consideration of multiple treatment options and opinions, more labor-intensive treatment planning and long wait times from the start of planning to the start of treatment. Often if a delay is expected hormone therapy is prescribed.
"The time delay is a real concern for the patient, and physicians have limited data to guide them regarding the urgency of treatment. "The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of treatment delay on the outcome of these men who choose external-beam radiation," Andrews said.
The study looked at data for 1,498 patients treated with external-beam radiation between 1981 and 2001. The median follow-up was 57 months, with a minimum of two years. Time to treatment was defined by the interval between the first positive biopsy and the initiation of radiation therapy. Patients were categorized into four groups in relation to time to treatment: less than three months (n=589), three to six months (n=629), six to nine months (n=94) and more than nine months (n=67). A second analysis was performed which evaluated outcomes at the median time to treatment of 3.2 months.
"Our findings show that a delay, within the limits of this study, from the time of diagnosis to the start of treatment with external-beam radiat
Contact: Colleen Kirsch
Fox Chase Cancer Center