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Popular Prostate Cancer Therapy Is Short, Intense and Unproved « Berman Institute Bioethics Bulletin

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After learning he had early stage prostate cancer, Paul Kolnik knew he wanted that cancer destroyed immediately and with as little disruption as possible to his busy life as the New York City Ballet’s photographer.

So Mr. Kolnik, 65, chose a type of radiation treatment that is raising some eyebrows in the prostate cancer field. It is more intense than standard radiation and takes much less time — five sessions over two weeks instead of 40 sessions over about two months or 28 sessions over five to six weeks.

The newer therapy is surging in popularity, but no one knows whether it is as effective in curing prostate cancer, or how its side effects compare.

The rise of short-course radiation is an example of the evidentiary blind spots that bedevil the treatment of prostate cancer. It is second only to lung cancer in men, striking 180,000 patients a year. But treatments for lung cancer, and for other common cancers like those of the breast and colon, have been evaluated in randomized clinical trials more often than those for prostate cancer.

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Image: By Nephron – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10552036

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