A five-year study shows that Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) to treat prostate cancer offers a higher cure rate than more traditional approaches, according to researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The study -- the first trial to publish five-year results from SBRT treatment for prostate cancer -- found a 98.6 percent cure rate with SBRT, a noninvasive form of radiation treatment that involves high-dose radiation beams entering the body through various angles and intersecting at the desired target. It is a state-of-the-art technology that allows for a concentrated dose to reach the tumor while limiting the radiation dose to surrounding healthy tissue.

Researchers also realized that side effects were not necessarily different compared to other forms of prostate cancer treatment. In the short term, the side effects of SBRT can include urinary issues (urgency, frequency and burning) and rectal irritation, which are often temporary and reverse within four weeks of treatment. Researchers found a small risk of longer-term urinary and rectal complications, which is also comparable to conventional treatments. Decrease in erectile function was seen in 25 percent of patients, fewer than with conventional radiation or surgery, said Dr. Hannan.

To reduce the side effects associated with SBRT, current clinical trials at UTSW are using a unique and biodegradable rectal spacer gel to protect the rectum. UTSW is currently the only accredited site in Texas at which this spacer gel can be used.

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