Prostate cancer is the most common noncutaneous malignancy diagnosed in American men, and in 1994 it will pass lung cancer as the most common cancer diagnosed in the United States, with an estimated 200,000 new cases. The molecular biology of prostate carcinogenesis is rapidly advancing, and it is clear that, to a degree, prostate cancer is a heritable disease. The use of serum prostate-specific antigen (PSA) as a screening tool has been widely accepted by the medical community, although the evidence to support the efficacy of screening is not yet available. The curative approaches to organ-confined, clinically localized prostate cancer include radiation therapy, radical prostatectomy, and close observation in selected patients. The absence of well-designed clinical trials contributes to the confusion surrounding which curative treatment is the best option in individual patients. The standard approach to patients with evidence of extracapsular spread without distant metastases has been external-beam radiotherapy, although the results with radiation therapy alone in these patients has left considerable room for improvement. Innovative combined-modality approaches are currently being investigated at a number of institutions for these poor-prognosis patients. Three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy is currently being investigated at multiple institutions and offers some hope for improved results. The treatment of metastatic disease remains hormonal manipulation, although the exact nature of optimal androgen deprivation is currently a matter of considerable debate. In patients with hormone-refractory disease newer regimens using novel chemotherapy regimens offer some promise.
Lee, WR; Giantonio, B; Hanks, GE
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