Does pelvic irradiation play a role in the management of prostate cancer?

Oncology (Williston Park). 1998 Oct;12(10):1467-72; discussion 1472, 1475-6.


The optimal management of patients with lymph node-positive prostate cancer remains controversial. The role of pelvic irradiation in patients at high risk for nodal involvement continues to be debated. Studies of prostate irradiation with and without inclusion of the pelvic lymph nodes show poor outcomes for node-positive patients, supporting the concept that many of these patients have systemic disease at presentation. Although no randomized trial has examined the role of pelvic irradiation in pathologically node-positive patients, available data fail to reveal any significant benefit of this approach over prostate-alone irradiation. More promising therapeutic approaches involve the combination of local therapy and sustained hormonal therapy. Series comparing prophylactic irradiation of the pelvis and prostate to irradiation of the prostate alone have shown no clear benefit of pelvic irradiation. Pelvic irradiation may play a role in the treatment of early-stage or occult nodal disease, although this has yet to be examined. Until prospective, randomized trials demonstrate the efficacy of pelvic irradiation in the management of prostate cancer, its use cannot be routinely recommended. Data support the use of lymphadenectomy in high-risk patients to identify those with positive nodes, since these patients require androgen withdrawal therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Lymphatic Metastasis / radiotherapy*
  • Male
  • Pelvis*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / surgery
  • Radiotherapy / methods
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Treatment Outcome