September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness month, and what better timing for the release of two independent studies boosting the effectiveness of brachytherapy (radiation seed implants) as a modality for prostate cancer treatment. The two studies were done by The Prostate Cancer Foundation of Chicago and The Taussig Cancer Center at Cleveland Clinic. Is brachytherapy the best treatment for prostate cancer? That’s still up for debate. It is important to note that the studies were done in comparison to surgery (prostatectomy) and not to external beam radiation. In fact, the researchers at The Taussig Cancer Center said that brachytherapy was equally successful as external beam radiation for treatment of low-risk patients. Therefore, there is still no clear consensus on choosing brachytherapy over external beam radiation (i.e. IMRT technique) and vice-versa. However, considering brachytherapy and external beam radiation are equally successful techniques for early prostate cancer survival, as researchers in this study say, to me external beam radiation, such as IMRT, is more favorable. External beam IMRT technique is non-invasive–there is no pain, no incisions and no blood loss.
Just as an aside, everyone knows that the pink ribbon is the symbol for breast cancer awareness, but did you know that the blue ribbon is the universal symbol of prostate cancer awareness?
An Original Article in the August 27, 2009 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine raises concerns that imaging procedures, such as CT scans, that expose patients to low-dose ionizing radiation may be increasing their risk for cancer.
Fazel et al of Emory University obtained utilization data from just under 1 million nonelderly adults between January 1, 2005 and December 31, 2007 in five areas in the U.S. Using this data, the authors estimated the cumulative effective doses of radiation from imaging procedures and calculated population-based rates of exposure. Annual effective doses were defined as low, moderate, high or very high.
The authors found that almost 70 percent of those studied were exposed to radiation by at least one imaging procedure. Read more