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Prostate cancer

Updated 27 August 2014

Radiation overused in prostate cancer

Most men given radiation to control pain from advanced prostate cancer undergo more treatments than they really need.

Most men given radiation to control pain from advanced prostate cancer undergo more treatments than they really need, a new study suggests.

Looking at Medicare claims data, the investigators found that single-session treatments were done in only about 3% of men receiving radiation for prostate cancer that had spread to the bones. What's more, half of the patients went through more than 10 treatments.

"Fraction" refers to a session of radiation treatment. Studies have found that one treatment, at a relatively larger dose of 8 Gy, is as effective for pain relief as 20 Gy given over five treatments, or 30 Gy given over 10 treatments.

Although the evidence started coming in more than a decade ago, it was in 2005 that a large US clinical trial showed that a single radiation treatment was just as good as multiple treatments for patients whose cancer had spread to the bones.

 

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