The study found that men who receive radiation for prostate cancer have about 70 percent higher risk of developing rectal cancer than those who underwent surgery, a risk similar to that posed by having a family history of the disease. This is the first study to quantify rectal cancer risk associated with prostate radiation. The entire study will be published April 1, 2005 in the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) journal Gastroenterology.
Nancy Baxter, M.D., Ph.D., colon and rectal surgeon and researcher at the University of Minnesota's Medical School and Cancer Center, led the research team that conducted the study.
"While the findings of our study do not suggest that prostate cancer treatment should change, we recommend that the potential for developing rectal cancer be included in conversations between doctors and patients when considering the individualized course of treatment and surveillance for patients with prostate cancer," said Baxter.
"Additionally, we recommend that men who have had prostate radiation should be monitored for rectal cancer starting five years after treatment." She further advises that men undergoing radiation therapy for prostate cancer ask their doctor about the approved screening methods, regardless of their age.
Researchers used data from the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Registry to evaluate the effect of radiation on development of cancer in the rectum. More than 85,000 men, age 18 to 80, were included in this retrospective, population-based study. These men were diagnosed with prostate cancer from Jan. 1, 1973 to Dec. 31, 1994. A total of 30,552 men received radiation, of which 1,437 d
Contact: Mary Lawson
University of Minnesota