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Two Years of Hormone Suppression In Prostate Cancer Patients Improves Recurrence and Survival Rates; Fox Chase Cancer Center Doctor Says Study Indicates New Standard of Treatment

PHILADELPHIA (October 23, 2000) -- A Phase III trial examining the use of long-term hormone suppression with radiation in locally advanced prostate cancer shows that the treatment can prevent recurrence and improve survival. The study by the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group is the largest phase III prostate radiation treatment trial to date. It was presented at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology Annual Meeting in Boston, Mass. during a plenary session by Gerald E. Hanks, M.D., chairman of radiation oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, Pa.

The study is a prospective randomized trial of optimal duration of androgen suppression and external beam radiation in patients with locally advanced prostate cancer. All patients received four months of the drugs Zoladex and Flutamide, two months before and two months during radiation. These drugs suppress production and utilization of the hormone androgen, which is known to spur the growth and spread of prostate cancer. The patients were then randomized to receive either no further therapy or 24 months of additional Zoladex alone. The 1,520 patients who participated in the study were followed for an average of 4.8 years.

The group with long-term androgen deprivation (LTAD) did significantly better than did those receiving short-term hormone treatment in many indicators: disease-free survival (54% vs. 34%), local progression (6% vs. 13%), and freedom from distant metastasis (16% vs. 10%). Sixty-one patients died of prostate cancer in the short-term androgen deprivation group compared to 36 in the LTAD group.

"Our results set a new standard of treatment for patients with advanced localized prostate cancer," said Hanks, chairman of the multi-center study. "In addition to controlling recurrence, the use of long-term androgen suppression in this study demonstrated a reduction of death due to prostate cancer in favor of the LTAD group."

Patients at highest risk of relapse (those with tumors rated "Gleason score" 8-10) treated with LTAD had significantly better five-year survival (80% vs. 69%) and fewer deaths from prostate cancer (10% vs. 22%) than compared to those who had short-term therapy. In these high-risk patients, 12 LTAD patients died from prostate cancer compared with 29 in the short-term group.

Fox Chase Cancer Center, one of the nation's first comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute in 1974, conducts basic and clinical research; programs of prevention, detection and treatment of cancer; and community outreach. For more information about Fox Chase activities, visit the Center's web site at

Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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