Postprostatectomy radiation therapy: an evidence-based review

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Abstract

While the majority of men with localized prostate cancer who undergo a radical prostatectomy will remain disease free, men with certain clinical and pathological features are known to be at an increased risk for developing a biochemical recurrence and, ultimately, distant metastatic disease. The optimal management of these patients continues to be a source of controversy. To date, three randomized Phase III trials have demonstrated that adjuvant radiation therapy (ART) for patients with certain adverse pathological features results in an improvement in several clinically-relevant end points, including biochemical recurrence-free survival and overall survival. Despite the evidence from these trials showing a benefit for ART, many believe that ART results in overtreatment and unwarranted treatment morbidity for a significant number of patients. Many physicians, therefore, instead advocate for close observation followed by early salvage radiation therapy (SRT) at the time of a biochemical recurrence. The purpose of this review is to evaluate the evidence for and to distinguish between ART and early SRT. We will also highlight current and future areas of research for this patient population, including radiation treatment dose escalation, hypofractionation and androgen deprivation therapy. We will also discuss the cost–effectiveness of ART and early SRT.

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