Jury's Still Out on Prostate Cancer Therapy

Effectiveness of interstitial brachytherapy in treating prostate cancer remains unclear

(RxWiki News) Interstitial brachytherapy may or may not hold advantages compared to other therapy options in men with localized prostate cancer, according to a new study.

Researchers at the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) looked at whether newer studies challenge the findings of prior research on interstitial brachytherapy completed in 2007.

In interstitial brachytherapy, small radioactive particles are permanently embedded in the prostate using needles. These particles allow for local, targeted radiation of tumors.

Low-dose-rate (LDR) permanent interstitial brachytherapy offers an alternative treatment option in place of complete surgical removal of the prostate (prostatectomy) or radiation with an external radiation source (external beam radiotherapy) when treating localized prostate cancer.

Prostate tumors are potentially curable so long as the tumor has not spread to other organs. Sometimes as tumors develop slowly or stop growing, healthcare providers will simply watch the tumor in a process called active surveillance, which is sometimes a fourth option in the treatment of localized prostate cancer.

In IQWiG's report, the team was able to include a number of studies, which for the first time also included results from a randomized controlled trial (RCT). The team of researchers still rated the information insufficient since many of the more than 20 studies they analyzed showed deficiencies or included too few participants to be of statisttical significance.

IQWiG concluded that brachytherapy has so far not proven at least equivalent to other treatment options for localized prostate cancer in relation to the disease-free survival of patients.

Review Date: 
January 12, 2011