Recurrence of Prostate Cancer
A recurrence of prostate cancer means that the prostate cancer has returned after initial treatment.
After radiation therapy, PSA levels usually drop to a stable and low level.
However, if PSA levels rise at any time after treatment, a local or distant recurrence may be occurring, requiring additional testing.
Prostate cancer can recur in the tissue next to the prostate, or seminal vesicles. Prostate cancer can also recur in bones or other organs, which is called metastasis.
How Common Is Recurrence of Prostate Cancer?
Almost 100% of men with prostate cancer live at least five years after the diagnosis. 91% of men diagnosed with prostate cancer survive at least 10 years and 76% survive 15 years, according to the American Cancer Society. Because many men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer are already elderly, many are more likely to die from other causes.
More than 90% of the time prostate cancer is discovered while it is either confined to the prostate gland or has spread beyond the prostate only to a small degree, referred to as regional spread.
Among the less than 10% of men whose prostate cancers have already spread to distant parts of the body at the time of diagnosis, about 31% are expected to survive at least five years.
How Is a Recurrence Detected?
After prostate cancer treatment, patients should go for medical check-ups every few months as determined by a doctor. Your doctor will order a blood test to measure PSA levels at each appointment. This test helps your doctor detect a cancer recurrence.
When PSA test results will suggest if cancer has come back or is continuing to spread. X-rays and other imaging tests may be done.
What are Signs that Point to Recurrence?
There are several signs that can point to a recurrence of prostate cancer:
- Lymph node involvement. Men who have cancer cells in the lymph nodes in the pelvic region are more likely to have a recurrence.
- Tumor size. Often, the larger the tumor is, the greater the chance of recurrence.
- Gleason score. The higher the grade of cancer, the greater the chance of recurrence to happen.
- Stage. The stage of a cancer is the most important factor for choosing treatment plans and determining of the cancer will come back.
It is extremely important for men that have been diagnosed with prostate cancer and have gone into remission constantly monitor their progress. Daily checkups are crucial to ensure the identification of prostate cancer recurrence.
1 Freedland, S.J., Humphreys, E.B., Mangold, L.A., et al: Risk of prostate cancer-specific mortality following biochemical recurrence after radical prostatectomy. JAMA, 294: 433, 2005 Free Text
2 D’Amico, A. V., Moul, J. W., Carroll, P. R. et al: Surrogate end point for prostate cancer-specific mortality after radical prostatectomy or radiation therapy. J Natl Cancer Inst, 95: 1376, 2003 Free Text
Page updated 5/3/13