Men with aggressive, metastatic prostate cancer who undergo immediate hormone therapy live on average three to four years longer than men who delay similar treatment, new research shows.
The research team led by Dr. Edward M. Messing, of the University of Rochester Medical Center found hormone therapy, which reduces the production of testosterone known to stimulate prostate cancer progression, is effective immediately following surgery or radiation therapy.
"Evidence shows that if you have very aggressive prostate cancer that could kill you, early hormone therapy is your best bet," Messing said in a prepared statement.
The study, presented this week at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting New Orleans, focused on men whose cancer had spread to their pelvic lymph nodes and were treated with surgery to remove the prostate and nodes.
Results showed that men who began hormone therapy soon after surgery lived an average of 14 years, compared to 10 to 12 years for those who delayed the treatment. The finding is consistent with results of a large analysis of pooled data from multiple studies testing early versus delayed hormonal therapy in men who have aggressive cancers. The men in those studies were all treated with hormone therapy before the cancers were found to have spread to distant sites.
"This is important information for patients and oncologists to have as they make treatment decisions," says Messing, a urology surgeon and chair of the Urology Department and deputy director of the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center.
Prostate cancer is diagnosed in more than 220,000 men each year in the United States, making it the second most common form of cancer in men, behind skin cancers. Approximately 30,000 men with aggressive disease will die from the disease each year, while another 30,000 of these elderly men die from other health problems while battling the disease.