Fox Chase Researchers Present Findings Comparing Radiation Therapies Show They Are Safe for Prostate Cancer Patients

October 26, 2020

PHILADELPHIA (October 26, 2020)—Researchers from Fox Chase Cancer Center have presented new data that shows that moderately hypofractionated photon and proton therapies are both safe for patients with low- or intermediate-risk prostate cancer.

The researchers found that rates of toxicity in the bladder and rectum, the two organs most at risk of side effects from radiation treatment due to their proximity to the prostate, were very low. In fact, the vast majority of patients had no late toxicity at all. The new data was presented during a poster session at the ASTRO (American Society for Radiation Oncology) 2020 Annual Meeting.

According to study author Jessica Karen Wong, MD, MEng, assistant professor of radiation oncology and assistant director of the Radiation Oncology Residency and Fellowship Training Program at Fox Chase, the finding is significant for treatment centers.

It demonstrates that moderate hypofractionation is safe when used to treat patients with low- or intermediate-risk prostate cancer, whether they use photon or proton modalities. Patients “cannot make a wrong decision—both forms of treatment are safe and effective,” Wong said.

The study, which included nearly 2,000 patients from Fox Chase and six other national referral centers across the United States, compared the two approaches to radiation treatment. Radiation can be delivered via two competing modalities: intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT), which uses photons such as X-rays, or proton beam therapy (PBT).

All patients in the study were treated with moderate hypofractionation—a shorter, more concentrated regimen in which patients complete their full course of radiation in about five weeks as opposed to the standard eight weeks—and with either IMRT or PBT. Follow-up was conducted about four to six years after treatment, at which point the researchers looked at rates of toxicity specifically in the bladder and rectum.

In addition to being presented at ASTRO 2020, the biggest national meeting for radiation oncology in the United States, the study has been submitted for publication and is under review. Meanwhile, Wong is optimistic about extending the research to look at long-term cure and control rates.

“It’s been very nice to be able to form this consortium where we are sharing data and able to combine the power of each of our individual institutional experiences into one big cohort and to be able to continue that long-term,” she said.

“It’s a way of really collaborating across the country and shows that people in radiation oncology can work together to get better outcomes faster for patients,” Wong added.

Fox Chase Cancer Center (Fox Chase), which includes the Institute for Cancer Research and the American Oncologic Hospital and is a part of Temple Health, is one of the leading comprehensive cancer 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 is also one of just 10 members of the Alliance of Dedicated Cancer Centers. 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 five 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. It is the policy of Fox Chase Cancer Center that there shall be no exclusion from, or participation in, and no one denied the benefits of, the delivery of quality medical care on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity/expression, disability, age, ancestry, color, national origin, physical ability, level of education, or source of payment.


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