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A study shows that Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT), to treat prostate cancer, offers a higher cure rate than other more traditional treatments.
Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) in a non-invasive form of radiation therapy which involves high-dose radiation beams entering the body from various angles, and which then intersect at the target which needs to be treated. This allows for maximal radiation to be applied to the pathology, and also limits the radiation exposure to surrounding healthy tissue.

The comparison between SBRT and other treatments

A 5 year study, which was conducted by researchers at the Harold C Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Centre in Texas, U.S.A, shows that SBRT offered higher cure rates for prostate cancers than other forms of management. This was the first trial to publish 5 year results on SBRT, and it found that the cure rate of prostate cancer was 98,6%.

This cure rate was extremely high compared to other forms of treatment such as conventional radiation therapy and surgery, which had cure rates ranging between 80-90%. Not only was the cure rate of SBRT high, but it was also non-invasive and had a quick completion rate of 5 sessions.

This then made SBRT a more effective and potent form of management for prostate cancer as compared to other available conventional treatments. These forms of management include the following:

  • Prostatectomy - the prostate is surgically removed and can be done using minimally invasive procedures and robotic assistance nowadays.
  • Brachytherapy - here, small rice-sized radioactive seeds are implanted into the prostate via large needles which are inserted through the skin. These seeds then release radiation directly onto the prostate.
  • External beam radiation - this involves radiation of the area of the prostate. Here, 42-45 treatments are administered over a few months, for 5 days a week.
As can be noted, SBRT has many more benefits compared to external beam radiation regarding treatment time. This also allows patients to return to performing normal daily activities quickly, improves their quality of life as well as improving their prognosis.

Side-effects of prostate cancer treatments 

Regarding side-effects, it was discovered that the following issues were experienced with SBRT:

  • Urinary issues such as increased frequency, increased urgency and burning urine as well as rectal irritation were experienced. Importantly, it was noted that these issues were not different to those experienced from the other forms of treatment. Also, these issues seemed to resolve within 4 weeks after treatment was completed.
  • There was also associated risk of long-term rectal and urinary complications, which were also comparable to other forms of treatment.
  • Erectile dysfunction was also a reported issue, but this was in the case of 25% of patients which was comparably less than in other treatments.
It was discovered then that the side-effect profile of SBRT was comparably better than in other conventional treatments for prostate cancer. Research is currently being done on a biodegradable rectal spacer, in order to help reduce the side-effect profile of SBRT by protecting the rectum during radiation.

Future studies on SBRT

The mentioned study showed the efficacy of SBRT in stage 1 and 2 prostate cancers, which are regarded as low and intermediate risk cancers. The researchers are looking to expand their study into testing the potency of SBRT in stage 3 prostate cancers.

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