ESTRO: Cost-effective prostate therapy 'underutilized'

Better outcomes can be achieved for prostate cancer patients using brachytherapy, according to study findings presented by consulting firm Panaxea at a forum of the European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO), held from 19 to 23 April in Geneva.

Researchers at Panaxea, a spin-off from the University of Twente in Enschede, the Netherlands, analyzed research findings from six studies involving 55,000 patients. Lead author Dr. Lotte Steuten, associate professor of health technology assessment and director of health economics at Panaxea, and colleagues, found that where prostate cancer remains localized in patients, prostate brachytherapy is more cost-effective and offers better quality of life outcomes.

She reported brachytherapy is underutilized in the U.K. Only 4% to 5% of men diagnosed with prostate cancer receive brachytherapy, compared with 8% of patients in Germany and 25% in the U.S.

About half of the prostate cancer patients undergo surgery, in spite of the increased risk of incontinence and impotence compared with radiotherapy treatment. Steuten attributed the fact that more young men in the U.K. choose surgery as their choice of treatment as a result of being influenced by the first doctor they consult with about the disease.

The study was funded by a research grant from radiation oncology firm Elekta.

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