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Prostate Cancer Test 'Bounce' No Worry

Temporary Rise and Fall in PSA Levels After Radiation Does Not Affect Survival
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Nov. 8, 2006 (Philadelphia) - Men who have a temporary rise on a common prostate test after radiation therapy for prostate cancer fare as well as those who don't exhibit the rise, according to the largest, longest study of its kind.

They are no more likely to die in the next 10 years than patients whose levels do not go up and down, according to the study.

Also, the study found, the prostate cancer is no more likely to return in men who have the rise in prostate specific antigen (PSA) -- the so-called PSA bounce -- than in those who do not, says researcher Eric Horwitz, MD, clinical director of the radiation oncology department at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.

Horwitz's study looked at more than 7,500 prostate cancer patients treated with radiation.

Increased levels of PSA, a protein produced by the prostate, may be a sign of prostate cancer.

But in men who have radiation treatment for prostate cancer, a temporary rise and fall in PSA levels is common. It affects up to half of patients, Horwitz says.

Horwitz tells WebMD the new findings are "a huge deal" for both doctors and men with prostate cancer. Patients typically become extremely anxious and may even have unnecessary chemotherapy or hormone treatment if they have a temporary rise in PSA.

Robert J. Cole, MD, a prostate cancer specialist at the Cancer Center in Morristown, N.J., who was not involved with the study, agrees.

"This is another nail in the coffin for the PSA bounce," he says. "We can point to this landmark study and tell patients that 7,532 men were examined and the PSA bounce did not have any impact on the curability or the success rate of the treatment. That's pretty impressive."

Horwitz's study was presented at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology's annual meeting being held in Philadelphia.

Survival, Risk of Spread Not Affected

The researchers studied men who were treated with either external beam radiation therapy or radiation seed implants.

In external beam radiation therapy, a beam of high-dose radiation is aimed at the prostate to kill cancer cells.

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