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Cancer. 2006 Jul 15;107(2):281-8.

The effect of postprostatectomy external beam radiotherapy on quality of life: results from the Cancer of the Prostate Strategic Urologic Research Endeavor.

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  • 1Division of Urology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.



Postprostatectomy salvage radiotherapy may improve prostate-specific antigen (PSA) progression-free survival, but little is known about its effect on quality of life.


From the Cancer of the Prostate Strategic Urologic Research Endeavor (CaPSURE) data base, 1289 patients who had undergone radical prostatectomy (RP) without neoadjuvant or adjuvant hormone therapy completed validated health-related quality of life (HRQOL) questionnaires. Of these, 69 patients also received salvage radiotherapy at a median of 14 months after RP. The University of California-Los Angeles Prostate Cancer Index and the 36-item short form SF-36 questionnaire were used to compare HRQOL 12 to 18 months after external beam radiotherapy or 26 to 32 months after RP alone. Those responses also were compared with HRQOL responses from 55 men with data prior to and 12 to 18 months after primary radiotherapy. Multivariate regression identified differences between treatment groups.


Men who underwent salvage radiotherapy were younger (P = .03) and had lower incomes (P = .01) than men who underwent RP alone; they also were younger than men who underwent primary radiotherapy (P < .01). In addition, men who received salvage radiotherapy were more likely than men who underwent RP alone to have clinically high-risk prostate cancer (P < .01). Multivariate analyses revealed that men who received salvage radiotherapy experienced more marked decrements in sexual function (P = .01) and bowel function (P = .03) than men who underwent RP alone. Salvage radiotherapy led to less impairment of sexual function (P < .01) and less sexual bother (P = .04) than primary radiotherapy.


Although salvage radiotherapy is associated with unclear survival benefits, it adversely affects sexual and bowel function. Until randomized clinical trials demonstrate disease-specific survival benefits for salvage radiotherapy, the HRQOL detriments of additional therapy must be weighed against improved PSA progression-free survival.

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