Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size

PSA Predicts Prostate Cancer Survival

Metastatic Prostate Cancer Survival Related to PSA Drop After Treatment
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Aug. 29, 2006 -- How long will a man with advanced prostate cancerprostate cancer survive? That may be related to how low his PSA level drops after androgen-deprivation therapy.

The finding comes from University of Michigan researcher Maha Hussain, MD, and colleagues. They're conducting a study of men newly diagnosed with prostatecancercancer that has spread to other parts of their bodies. For men with this deadly metastatic cancer, it is big news.

It depends on a simple blood test. Prostate cells -- especially prostate cancer cells -- give off a marker called PSA (prostate-specific antigen).

After seven months of androgen-deprivation therapy, which is standard treatment for metastatic prostate cancer, men with low PSA levels have only one-fourth the chance of dying as men with higher PSA levels. Those with undetectable PSA levels have only one-fifth the risk of death as men with higher PSA levels.

"Low or undetectable PSA after seven months of androgen-deprivation therapy is a powerful predictor of risk of death in patients with new metastatic prostate cancer," Hussain said, in a news release. "These findings could help patients avoid ineffective treatment."

PSA Test Predicts Prostate Cancer Death

Metastatic prostate cancer is usually fatal. Some patients die quickly. Others survive for years. Until now, there's been no reliable way to tell a patient which group he's in.

Standard treatment for spreading prostate cancer is to give a man a drug that blocks male hormones. It's called androgen-deprivation therapy. It's not a cure. Eventually, the body becomes resistant to the drug. But treatment fails earlier in some men than in others.

Now there may be a way to predict this treatment failure. Hussain and colleagues studied 1,345 men who were on androgen-deprivation therapy for seven months.

The men whose PSA levels stayed above 4.0 ng/mL survived only 13 months on average after the seven months of treatment. The men whose PSA levels were 4.0 ng/mL or less but more than 0.2 ng/mL survived an average 3.5 years. And the men whose PSA levels were undetectable (less than or equal to 0.2 ng/mL) lived for six years.

The findings could also provide what the researchers call a "window of opportunity" to test new treatments for advanced prostate cancer.

Hussain and colleagues are now testing whether successful androgen-deprivation therapy can be prolonged by stopping and starting treatment after the seven-month "induction" period.

The study appears in the Aug. 20 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Today on WebMD

man with doctor
Symptoms, risks, treatments
man coughing
Men shouldn’t ignore
prostate cancer cells
What does this diagnosis mean?
doctor and male patient
Is it worth it?
cancer fighting foods
15 Cancer Symptoms Men Ignore
Prostate Enlarged
Picture Of The Prostate
Prostate Cancer Quiz
screening tests for men
Prostate Cancer Symptoms
Vitamin D