Serum acid phosphatase levels
Elevations of serum acid phosphatase are associated with poor prognosis in both localized and disseminated disease. However, serum acid phosphatase levels are not incorporated into the American Joint Committee on Cancer's (AJCC) staging system for prostate cancer.
Use of nomograms as a prognostic tool
Several nomograms have been developed to predict outcomes either prior to radical prostatectomy [41,42,43,44] or after radical prostatectomy [45,46] with intent to cure. Preoperative nomograms are based on clinical stage, PSA level, Gleason score, and the number of positive and negative prostate biopsy cores. One independently validated nomogram demonstrated increased accuracy in predicting biochemical recurrence-free survival by including preoperative plasma levels of transforming growth factor B1 and interleukin-6 soluble receptor.[47,48]
Postoperative nomograms add pathologic findings, such as capsular invasion, surgical margins, seminal vesicle invasion, and lymph node involvement. The nomograms, however, were developed at academic centers and may not be as accurate when generalized to nonacademic hospitals, where the majority of patients are treated.[49,50] In addition, the nomograms use nonhealth (intermediate) outcomes, such as PSA rise or pathologic surgical findings, and subjective endpoints, such as the physician's perceived need for additional therapy. In addition, the nomograms may be affected by changing methods of diagnosis or neoadjuvant therapy.
Follow-up After Treatment
The optimal follow-up strategy for men treated for prostate cancer is uncertain. Men should be interviewed and examined for symptoms or signs of recurrent or progressing disease, as well as side effects of therapy that can be managed by changes in therapy. However, using surrogate endpoints for clinical decision making is controversial, and the evidence that changing therapy based on such endpoints translates into clinical benefit is weak. Often, rates of PSA change are thought to be markers of tumor progression. However, even though a tumor marker or characteristic may be consistently associated with a high risk of prostate cancer progression or death, it may be a very poor predictor and of very limited utility in making therapeutic decisions.
Although the PSA test is nearly universally used to follow patients, the diversity of recommendations on the provision of follow-up care reflects the current lack of research evidence on which to base firm conclusions. A systematic review of international guidelines highlights the need for robust primary research to inform future evidence-based models of follow-up care for men with prostate cancer.