[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Data from the Japanese Urological Society showed that, in Japan, almost half of patients with localized prostate cancer are treated with hormone therapy (HT), regardless of disease stage, and that radiation therapy (RT) is also widely used to treat high-risk patients. A retrospective study was undertaken in Japan to evaluate the potential benefits of using primary HT in locally advanced prostate cancer. Of 628 patients in the study, 63.5% were treated with combined androgen blockade (CAB; luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone agonists plus an antiandrogen) and 36.5% with medical or surgical castration. CAB treatment was significantly better than hormone monotherapy for disease-specific survival. The results also showed that, even if a patient is classified as 'high-risk', a good prognosis could normally be predicted based on certain variables: if their initial prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level was < or = 20 ng/mL, their Gleason score was < or = 6, and their nadir PSA decreased to < or = 0.2 ng/mL within 6 months of HT. In this subgroup of 'good responders', any treatment, be it prostatectomy, RT or CAB, is likely to be effective. However, in 'poor responders', combined therapies with CAB and high-dose rate brachytherapy are likely to be needed for a clinical response. While HT is effective, it might be associated with a reduction in the patient's quality of life (QoL) due to adverse effects, e.g. a reduction in sexual function. Results from the analysis of QoL questionnaires completed by men of different ages with prostate cancer found that only sexual function, and not other QoL variables, in men aged 50-59 years appeared to be reduced in men who had HT, compared to age-matched controls.