By Lynne Adkins

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A local researcher has proof that some older cancer patients will do well with a well-known treatment combination.

Men with prostate cancer that has spread outside the gland may be treated with the combination of hormone and radiation therapy, but Dr. Justin Bekelman, assistant professor of radiation oncology at Penn Medicine, says those over 75 are often given hormone therapy alone.

“The combination of radiation and hormone therapy has been shown to be very effective,” he says. “The issue is that 40% of men with aggressive prostate cancers are treated with hormone therapy alone which exposes a gap in cancer care.”

Bekelman says radiation can save lives and giving older men the combination cuts cancer deaths in half.

“It reduced cancer deaths by nearly 50-percent,” he says. “The reason we did this is because we’re finding more and more elderly men who could benefit from aggressive treatments are not receiving the curative treatments that could benefit them.”

Bekelman says the research shows even patients in their 80’s can tolerate the addition of radiation.

“Even amongst patients who are 76-85,” he says, “radiation therapy is still curative for aggressive prostate cancers.”

Bekelman encourages men to discuss their treatment options for prostate cancer with their physician.

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