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Prostate Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - General Information About Prostate Cancer


Prophylactic antibiotics, especially fluoroquinolones, are often used prior to transrectal needle biopsies. There are reports of increasing rates of sepsis, particularly with fluoroquinolone-resistant E. coli, and hospitalization after the procedure.[27,28] Therefore, men undergoing transrectal biopsy should be told to seek medical attention immediately if they experience fever after biopsy.

Prognostic Factors

The survival of patients with prostate cancer is related to several factors, including the following:[29,30,31,32,33]

  • Extent of tumor.
  • Histologic grade of tumor.
  • Patient's age and health.
  • Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level.

(Refer to the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results' 5-year and 10-year survival rates.)

Extent of tumor

When the cancer is confined to the prostate gland, long-term prognosis is excellent. Patients with locally advanced cancer are not usually curable, but 5-year survival is still very good. If prostate cancer has spread to distant organs, current therapy will not cure it. Median survival is usually 1 to 3 years, and most of these patients will die of prostate cancer. Even in this group of patients, indolent clinical courses lasting for many years may be observed.

Histologic grade of tumor

Poorly differentiated tumors are more likely to have metastasized before diagnosis and are associated with a poorer prognosis. The most commonly used method to report tumor differentiation is the Gleason score. (Refer to the Pathology section of the General Information About Prostate Cancer section of this summary for more information.)

Patient's age and health

Any benefits of definitive local therapy with curative intent may take years to emerge. Therefore, therapy with curative intent is usually reserved for men with a sufficiently long life expectancy. For example, radical prostatectomy is often reserved for men with an estimated life expectancy of at least 10 years.

PSA level

PSA, an organ-specific marker, is often used as a tumor marker.[31,32,34,35,36,37,38,39] The higher the level of PSA at baseline, the higher is the risk for metastatic disease or subsequent disease progression. However, it is an imprecise marker of risk.

For example, baseline PSA and rate of PSA change were associated with subsequent metastasis or prostate cancer death in a cohort of 267 men with clinically localized prostate cancer who were managed by watchful waiting or active surveillance in the control arm of a randomized trial comparing radical prostatectomy with watchful waiting or active surveillance.[40,41] Nevertheless, the accuracy of classifying men into groups whose cancer remained indolent versus those whose cancer progressed was poor at all examined cut points of PSA or PSA rate of change.

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