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Fox Chase Cancer Center Researchers: New Classification System Better Identifies Prostate Cancer Patients Who Would Benefit from Hormone Therapy

PHILADELPHIA --A new classification system for evaluating men after radiation treatment for prostate cancer better determines which men may recur and thus may benefit from hormone therapy. The results of a study applying the new system were presented today at the 48th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology in Philadelphia.

Men at risk of having their prostate cancer recur are often offered hormone therapy to control their cancer. Given as an injection, this therapy suppresses hormones in the body thought to fuel the growth of the disease. Physicians determine who will benefit from hormone therapy by considering many factors, including biochemical failure (BF).

BF, which indicates treatment failure, is determined with a calculation involving post-treatment PSA levels. (PSA, or prostate specific antigen, is measured by a blood test and used to determine if prostate cancer is present.) A new classification system, called the Phoenix definition, changes the method of determining BF failure and provides a better evaluation method for predicting a patient's outcome.

"The Phoenix system allows a more robust prediction for clinical outcome," said Matthew C. Abramowitz, MD, a resident in the radiation oncology department at Fox Chase Cancer Center. "By using the new classification system, we've been able to better identify patients who could benefit from hormone intervention."

"Under the previous classification system, these men may have been misclassified. Using the new definition, we are able to better identify those men most likely to develop problems from their recurrent prostate cancer. These men may benefit from hormone therapy."

Abramowitz and his colleagues applied the Phoenix system of defining biochemical failure to 1,831 previously treated patients. The new BF definition could alter the course of treatment, which may include hormone therapy sooner and for more men. The study demonstrates a significant improvement in predicting endpoints, including distant metastasis, cause-specific mortality and overall mortality.

"Our study shows that treating prostate cancer aggressively and preventing biochemical failure could translate into improved disease-free and overall survival for more men," Abramowitz concluded.

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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