Physicians Develop Test for Success of Common Prostate Cancer Treatment

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Prostate Cancer Treatment

A new study by University of Virginia Health System researchers has found that prostate cancer patients who reach a very low-level PSA (prostate-specific antigen) after combined radiation treatment using brachytherapy "seeds" and hormone therapy have a 99 percent chance of survival free from disease. In this study, PSA level was measured by a blood test six to 12 months after therapy.

"This finding is significant because the indicator point, PSA less than or equal to 0.06 ng/mL (nanograms per milliliter), is a tool that early on can reassure a patient that chances of survival are excellent. Previously, men had to wait six or seven years for such news," said Dr. Dan Theodorescu, professor of urology and director of the Mellon Prostate Cancer Institute at UVa. "It is a good indicator that the person will continue without further disease." The study is available online in advance of print in the journal Cancer, the official journal of the American Cancer Society.

Importantly, this finding also is useful for patients who don't reach such a low level of PSA after treatment. "If patients don't reach the 0.06 ng/mL level, they should be monitored and closely followed up, as their chances of cancer recurrence are higher," Dr. Theodorescu explains. "However, these patients overall did fairly well, with an 85 percent chance of disease-free survival over the study period, which included patientstreated from March 1997 to November 2002."

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In 2004, 29,900 deaths from prostate cancer were estimated to occur in the United States alone, making it the second leading cause of cancer death in men. All men are at risk for prostate cancer, and risk increases with age and family history of the cancer.

UVa Department of Urology is ranked as one of the nation's top departments in this medical specialty by U.S. News & World Report. Patients in this study were jointly treated by physicians in the Departments of Urology and Radiation Oncology at UVa Health System.

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University of Virginia Health System

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