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Nat Clin Pract Oncol. 2008 Nov;5(11):668-76. doi: 10.1038/ncponc1224. Epub 2008 Sep 30.

Technology Insight: Combined external-beam radiation therapy and brachytherapy in the management of prostate cancer.

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  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, Dana-Farber/Brigham & Women's Cancer Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


External-beam radiation therapy (EBRT) combined with brachytherapy is an attractive treatment option for selected patients with clinically localized prostate cancer. This therapeutic strategy offers dosimetric coverage if local-regional microscopic disease is present and provides a highly conformal boost of radiation to the prostate and immediate surrounding tissues. Either low-dose-rate (LDR) permanent brachytherapy or high-dose-rate (HDR) temporary brachytherapy can be combined with EBRT; such combined-modality therapy (CMT) is typically used to treat patients with intermediate-risk to high-risk, clinically localized disease. Controversy persists with regard to indications for CMT, choice of LDR or HDR boost, isotope selection for LDR, and integration of EBRT and brachytherapy. Initial findings from prospective, multicenter trials of CMT support the feasibility of this strategy. Updated results from these trials as well as those of ongoing and new phase III trials should help to define the role of CMT in the management of prostate cancer. In the meantime, long-term expectations for outcomes of CMT are based largely on the experience of single institutions, which demonstrate that CMT with EBRT and either LDR or HDR brachytherapy can provide freedom from disease recurrence with acceptable toxicity.

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