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At What Point Are Prostate Cancer Patients Cured?

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"[If patients] started out with a very aggressive cancer (high PSA), it will take less time to determine whether they are cured. Conversely, if they have a less aggressive cancer (a lower PSA), it may take a little bit longer before we can say to them that we're 95% certain that they are cured," Vicini tells WebMD.

Furthermore, the longer it took to achieve normal PSA levels, the better the prognosis, according to these results. Patients who took at least 2 years or more to achieve these normal PSA levels after treatment had the best chance of being completely cured of their cancer.

These results give doctors something more concrete to tell patients, says Vicini, who is a professor of radiation oncology. "This is important in terms of what you can tell your patients, and in terms of evaluating treatment effectiveness. We always wondered how long you have to follow patients after a particular treatment before you can tell them that it works. So this is now giving us a very good idea of how long you have to follow up people. We now have the ability to tell patients with a reasonable degree of certainty that if their PSA has remained at the right level for four or five years, it means that they are probably cured," he concludes.

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