For men with localized Prostate cancer, waiting several months from the time of diagnosis before beginning treatment with external beam radiation therapy does not worsen their odds of survival or other outcomes - even for high-risk patients - researchers report.
Delaying radiotherapy can make patients anxious, as they may fear that the cancer will grow or spread. However, it’s not clear that this is happens. Relatively few studies have looked at the consequences of delaying radiation treatment.
To investigate, Dr. Stephen F. Andrews and colleagues from the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, analyzed data from 1322 men who were treated with external beam radiation therapy alone. The researchers’ findings appear in the medical journal Cancer.
The time from diagnosis to treatment did not significantly affect overall survival or survival related specifically to Prostate cancer. Also, the interval to treatment had no influence on the spread of the cancer, or recurrence.
Men who began radiation treatment more than 9 months after diagnosis fared just as well as those who were treated within 3 months.
Even after the patients were divided into low-, intermediate-, and high-risk groups based on PSA levels and other factors, the time to radiation therapy had little impact on outcomes.
“We recommend definitive treatment with radiation therapy to begin as soon as possible after diagnosis,” the team states. Still, the current findings provide some reassurance that outcomes are not compromised when treatment is delayed, they add.
SOURCE: Cancer, July 15, 2005.
Revision date: July 7, 2011
Last revised: by Sebastian Scheller, MD, ScD