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J Urol. 2001 Sep;166(3):876-81.

High dose radiation delivered by intensity modulated conformal radiotherapy improves the outcome of localized prostate cancer.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 1275 York Avenue, New York, NY 10021, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Urol 2001 Nov;166(5):1839.



We present the long-term outcome and tolerance of 3-dimensional (D) conformal and intensity modulated radiation therapy for localized prostate cancer.


Between October 1988 and December 1998, 1,100 patients with clinical stages T1c-T3 prostate cancer were treated with 3-D conformal or intensity modulated radiation therapy. Patients were categorized into prognostic risk groups based on pretreatment prostate specific antigen (PSA), Gleason score and clinical stage. Sextant biopsies were performed 2.5 years or greater after treatment to assess local control. PSA relapse was defined according to the consensus guidelines of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiation Oncology. Late toxicity was classified according to the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group morbidity grading scale. Median followup was 60 months.


At 5 years the PSA relapse-free survival rate in patients at favorable, intermediate and unfavorable risk was 85% (95% confidence interval [CI] +/- 4), 58% (95% CI +/- 6) and 38% (95% CI +/- 6), respectively (p <0.001). Radiation dose was the most powerful variable impacting PSA relapse-free survival in each prognostic risk group. The 5-year actuarial PSA relapse-free survival rate for patients at favorable risk who received 64.8 to 70.2 Gy. was 77% (95% CI +/- 8) compared to 90% (95% CI +/- 8) for those treated with 75.6 to 86.4 Gy. (p = 0.04) [corrected]. The corresponding rates were 50% (95% CI +/- 8) versus 70% (95% CI +/- 6) in intermediate risk cases (p = 0.001), and 21% (95% CI +/- 8) versus 47% (95% CI +/- 6) in unfavorable risk cases (p = 0.008) [corrected]. Only 4 of 41 patients (10%) who received 81 Gy. had a positive biopsy 2.5 years or greater after treatment compared with 27 of 119 (23%) after 75.6, 23 of 68 (34%) after 70.2 and 13 of 24 (54%) after 64.8 Gy. The incidence of toxicity after 3-D conformal radiation therapy was dose dependent. The 5-year actuarial rate of grade 2 rectal toxicity in patients who received 75.6 Gy. or greater was 14% (95% CI +/- 2) compared with 5% (95% CI +/- 2) in those treated at lower dose levels (p <0.001). Treatment with intensity modulated radiation therapy significantly decreased the incidence of late grade 2 rectal toxicity since the 3-year actuarial incidence in 189 cases managed by 81 Gy. was 2% (95% CI +/- 2) compared with 14% (95% CI +/- 2) in 61 managed by the same dose of 3-D conformal radiation therapy (p = 0.005). The 5-year actuarial rate of grade 2 urinary toxicity in patients who received 75.6 Gy. or greater 3-D conformal radiation therapy was 13% compared with 4% in those treated up to lower doses (p <0.001). Intensity modulated radiation therapy did not affect the incidence of urinary toxicity.


Sophisticated conformal radiotherapy techniques with high dose 3-D conformal and intensity modulated radiation therapy improve the biochemical outcome in patients with favorable, intermediate and unfavorable risk prostate cancer. Intensity modulated radiation therapy is associated with minimal rectal and bladder toxicity, and, hence, represents the treatment delivery approach with the most favorable risk-to-benefit ratio.

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