Making the decision to undergo salvage radiotherapy when PSA levels rise even modestly after radical prostatectomy can help reduce the risks of prostate cancer metastasis significantly. That’s the finding of a recent study that looked at the benefits of more immediate intervention when PSA levels rise post-surgery.
The study in question involved more than 1,100 men who had detectable PSA levels following complete removal of their prostate glands. Researchers found that each doubling of PSA levels was associated with a significant increase of distant metastasis. The use of salvage radiotherapy, however, greatly reduced the risk of biochemical recurrence.
Researchers ultimately concluded that the presence of elevated PSA level following radical prostatectomy should signal the need for immediate action. While some clinicians may prefer monitoring in lower-level cases to help men avoid the potential side effects of radiotherapy, the study’s authors concluded that starting salvage radiation at the lowest PSA level could be very important for long-term efficacy.
Salvage radiotherapy involves the use of radiation to kill off any cancer cells that might remain following the complete removal of a diseased prostate gland. While prostatectomy procedures are quite often highly successful in getting all cancer cells, that is simply not always the case. Rising PSA levels may indicate that some cells were missed during initial treatment or that cancer has spread. The potential for that occurring after surgery is strong enough that most doctors recommend routine PSA blood draws. Should elevated levels of PSA be found, researchers recommend men and their doctors consider more immediate action to safeguard against recurrence and metastasis.
Men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer are strongly urged to talk to their doctors about all treatment options. Each procedure available does have its own potential risks and rewards. The best treatment path for a particular patient will depend on the particulars related to that man’s case.