Developments to Watch
SOWING SEEDS AGAINST PROSTATE CANCER
PROSTATE CANCER KILLS 40,000 men each year. That's bad enough, but another maddening fact is that only a minority of the 240,000 men diagnosed annually have a virulent form of the disease and need immediate treatment. Sadly, even the best tests can't tell precisely who they are. So to be safe, many men with relatively benign tumors go through radiation therapy or surgery, which can cause incontinence and impotence.
A growing number of doctors are performing a procedure called "seeding," in which rice-size radioactive pellets are implanted directly in the prostate gland. The procedure has fewer side-
effects and, according to a new study, may also offer good long-term results. In late April, Northwest Tumor Institute in Seattle reported that 100% of 111 prostate cancer patients were free of local recurrence five years after getting the implants. That rate beats external radiation treatment and is comparable to rates after surgery to remove the gland. The procedure costs half as much as surgery, and there are fewer cases of incontinence and impotence. Good news for patients and for Theragenics Corp. in Norcross, Ga., maker of the seeds used in the study.EDITED BY NEIL GROSS