"These patients have a better chance if they undergo surgery and are living longer than if they undergo radiation therapy," says Horst Zincke, M.D., Ph.D., Mayo Clinic urologist and senior study investigator.
Treatment of this type of prostate cancer has been controversial, as it is a stage 3 cancer in which the malignancy has spread. Due to its advanced stage, some physicians have considered it inoperable via radical prostatectomy, according to Dr. Zincke. He explains that many patients come to him for a second opinion after being told their cT3 prostate cancers could not be surgically removed.
"It's considered inoperable by some urologists and referred to radiation oncology," says Dr. Zincke. "They think surgery can't be done because the cancer is outside the prostate. Currently, only 15 percent are referred for surgery."
The problem with radiation therapy as the first line of treatment for cT3 prostate cancer, according to the Mayo Clinic researchers, is the cancer survival rate, which is 79 percent at only five years. In contrast, with radical prostatectomy, 79 percent of the patients lived at least 15 years. Says Dr. Zincke, "So, obviously surgery does a better job for these patients."
Dr. Zincke also explains that when malignant prostate tumors are high grade -- more aggressive -- they are not especially responsive to radiation therapy alone.
He believes the current trend away from surgery is a disservice to patients. "Patients are being denied surgical treatment when indeed they could have had surgery," Dr. Zincke says.
The cancer survival rates for cT3 prostate cancer with radical prostatectomy not only approach those of cT2 prostate cancer (can
Contact: Lisa Lucier