Imaging Technology May Make Radiation Safer for Prostate Cancer Patients

TUESDAY, July 25, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- A technique that uses imaging technology as a guide can make radiation therapy safer for patients undergoing treatment for prostate cancer, a new research review finds.

The technology enables clinicians to accurately aim the radiation beams at the prostate, while avoiding bladder, urethra and rectal tissue. This, in turn, reduces short-term side effects for patients, according to researchers who analyzed 29 published studies. They reported their findings online July 24 in the journal Cancer.

The technique is called magnetic resonance-guided daily adaptive stereotactic body radiotherapy (MRg-A-SBRT).

Reviewing studies involving more than 2,500 patients in all, the researchers found that MRg-A-SBRT was associated with a 44% reduction in urinary side effects and a 60% reduction in bowel side effects.

“The study is the first to directly evaluate the benefits of MR-guided adaptive prostate radiation in comparison to another more standard and conventional form of radiation, and it provides support for use of this treatment in the management of prostate cancer,” study co-author Dr. Jonathan Leeman said in a journal news release. He's a radiation oncologist with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Using this method, doctors can adjust a patient’s radiation plan every day in response to anatomical changes. They can also monitor the position of the prostate in real time while the radiation beam is on.

Although it was becoming more popular, it was unclear whether the technique had an impact on clinical outcomes and side effects compared with other ways of delivering radiation.

Whether the short-term benefits will lead to long-term benefits will require longer follow-up, Leeman said.

It’s also not clear which aspect of the technology is responsible for the improved outcomes.

“It could potentially be the capability for imaging-based monitoring during the treatment or it could be related to the adaptive planning component. Further studies will be needed to disentangle this,” Leeman said.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on prostate cancer.

SOURCE: Cancer, news release, July 24, 2023

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