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Urology. 2000 May;55(5):736-42.

Quality-of-life comparison of radical prostatectomy and interstitial brachytherapy in the treatment of clinically localized prostate cancer.

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Department of Urology, University of Virginia Health Sciences Center, Charlottesville, Virginia 22908, USA.



Interstitial brachytherapy (BT) is increasingly utilized as a curative treatment for localized prostate cancer because it is perceived as less morbid than surgical alternatives. However, to date no studies have directly compared the quality of life and symptoms of patients with localized prostate cancer treated with curative intent by radical prostatectomy with those treated by either BT alone or BT combined with external beam radiation.


On June 1, 1998, 242 men with clinically localized Stage T1c to T3 adenocarcinoma of the prostate, treated at our institution with curative intent from January 1, 1997 to June 1, 1998, were mailed a questionnaire. Cross-sectional analysis of returned questionnaires was carried out. Patients were treated with either radical prostatectomy (RP), palladium-103 (Pd(103)) brachytherapy (115 Gy) monotherapy (BTM), or Pd(103) combined brachytherapy (90 Gy) and external beam radiation (40 to 45 Gy) (BTC). The primary outcome measures were the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy scale (FACT-G), American Urological Association (AUA)/international prostate symptom score (IPSS), "Urinary Function Questionnaire for Men after Radical Prostatectomy," and Brief Sexual Function Inventory.


Data from 138 patients were included in the analysis; 27 had RP, 70 had BTM, and 41 had BTC. Total FACT-G and personal well-being scores were significantly lower in the BTC group. Brachytherapy monotherapy and RP had similar scores on the FACT-G, with surgical patients having the lowest IPSS scores. Correlations were noted between total FACT-G and urinary symptom score, degree of sexual function, frequency of diarrhea, and frequency of hot flashes. Bothersomeness of urinary function correlated with the degree of urinary control. The radical prostatectomy and BTM groups had improvement in quality of life, voiding, diarrhea, and sexual function with time, whereas the BTC group experienced a decline.


Patients treated with BTC had an overall lower quality of life compared with those treated by RP and BTM, and RP patients reported fewer irritative or obstructive voiding complaints. Although the consistency and magnitude of these trends require further study, our data suggest that RP remains a well-tolerated and accepted option.

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