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University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center
Publish Date: 12/09/02
Media Contact: AHC Public Relations, (513) 558-4553
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Radioactive Seeds and Early Diagnosis Result in Similar Prostate Cancer Cure Rates

Cincinnati--With early diagnosis, African-American men with prostate cancer are as likely as white men to be cured by brachytherapy (radioactive seeds implanted in the prostate), according to UC research presented this week at the 88th Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA). William L. Barrett, MD, assistant professor, radiation oncology and director of radiation oncology at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine and the University Hospital Barrett Cancer Center, is the principal investigator of the study. The RSNA is an association of more than 33,000 radiologists, radiation oncologists and physicists in medicine dedicated to education and research in the science of radiology.

The UC research provides some of the first good news for African-Americans who suffer from prostate cancer. The American Cancer Society reports that African-Americans have higher incidences of prostate cancer than whites and more than twice as many deaths from it.

Researchers at UC analyzed the outcomes of 173 patients treated for prostate cancer with implanted radioactive seeds and found no statistical differences between African-American and white patients with similar pre-treatment characteristics.

"The good news is that when diagnosed early, prostate cancer is frequently curable in African-Americans," Dr. Barrett said. "Our findings underscore the need for more screening among African-American males so the cancer is detected early, when it's most treatable." Dr. Barrett, and co-author William M. Kassing, PhD, a UC radiobiologist researcher, compared the biochemical response to brachytherapy of 12 African-American patients to 161 white patients. Both African-Americans and white patients were studied for approximately 40 months from 1995 to 2000. The results showed similar treatment outcomes for both groups receiving brachytherapy, regardless of race.

"There has long been debate about the usefulness of prostate cancer screening because some forms of the disease are so slow-growing, they will never be an issue for the patient," Dr. Barrett said. "But because prostate cancer in African-Americans is generally not slow-growing, the combination of early diagnosis and effective treatment is even more important."

None of the African-Americans undergoing brachytherapy in the study experienced a recurrence of prostate cancer, although 5.6 percent of the white patients did. Prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a protein produced by the prostate that in higher concentrations is an important marker of prostate disease, was monitored. African-American patients achieving and maintaining PSA levels of 1.0 or less was 83 percent, and compared to 85 percent for white patients.

The University Hospital is part of the Health Alliance of Greater Cincinnati. The Health Alliance also includes The Christ Hospital, The St. Luke Hospitals, The Jewish Hospital, The Fort Hamilton Hospital and the physicians of Alliance Primary Care.

For more information about this study, contact or call Dr. Barrett at 513/584-4775 or 513/584-8216.

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