For patients with unfavorable or high-risk prostate cancer, dose escalated radiation therapy leads to improved progression free survival but attempts to deliver increased dose by external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) alone can be limited by late toxicities to nearby genitourinary and gastrointestinal organs at risk. Brachytherapy is a method to deliver dose escalation in conjunction with EBRT with a potentially improved late toxicity profile and improved prostate cancer related outcomes. At least three randomized controlled trials have demonstrated improved biochemical control with the addition of either low-dose rate (LDR) or high-dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy to EBRT, although only ASCENDE-RT compared brachytherapy to dose-escalated EBRT but did report an over 50% improvement in biochemical failure with a LDR boost. Multiple single institution and comparative research series also support the use of a brachytherapy boost in the DE-EBRT era and demonstrate excellent prostate cancer specific outcomes. Despite improved oncologic outcomes with a brachytherapy boost in the high-risk setting, the utilization of both LDR, and HDR brachytherapy use is declining. The acute genitourinary toxicities when brachytherapy boost is combined with EBRT, particularly a LDR boost, are of concern in comparison to EBRT alone. HDR brachytherapy boost has many physical properties inherent to its rapid delivery of a large dose which may reduce acute toxicities and also appeal to the radiobiology of prostate cancer. We herein review the evidence for use of either LDR or HDR brachytherapy boost for high-risk prostate cancer and summarize comparisons between the two treatment modalities.
- high risk prostate