Two tests are used to look for prostate cancer: a digital rectal exam and a PSA blood test.
The PSA blood test looks for something called prostate-specific antigen in the blood. Who should have a PSA test and when is controversial:
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force does not recommend regular PSA tests. The task force say the tests may find cancers that are so slow growing that treatment, which can have serious side effects, would offer no benefit.
The American Cancer Society (ACS)...
The frequency of clinically silent, nonmetastatic prostate cancer that can be found at autopsy greatly increases with age and may be as high as 50% to 60% in men aged 90 years and older. Undoubtedly, the incidental discovery of these occult cancers at prostatic surgery performed for other reasons accounts for the similar survival of men with stage I prostate cancer, compared with the normal male population, adjusted for age.
Many stage I cancers are well differentiated and only focally involve the gland (T1a, N0, M0); most require no treatment other than careful follow-up.
In younger patients (aged 50–60 years) whose expected survival is long, treatment should be considered. Radical prostatectomy, external-beam radiation therapy (EBRT), interstitial implantation of radioisotopes, and watchful waiting and active surveillance yield apparently similar survival rates in noncontrolled, selected series. The decision to treat should be made in the context of the patient's age, associated medical illnesses, and personal desires.
Standard Treatment Options for Stage I Prostate Cancer
Standard treatment options for stage I prostate cancer include the following:
Asymptomatic patients of advanced age or with concomitant illness may warrant consideration of careful observation without immediate active treatment.[4,5,6] Watch and wait, observation, expectant management, and active surveillance are terms indicating a strategy that does not employ immediate therapy with curative intent. (Refer to the Watchful Waiting or Active Surveillance section in the Treatment Option Overview for Prostate Cancer section of this summary for more information.)
Evidence (observation with delayed hormonal therapy):
In a retrospective pooled analysis, 828 men with clinically localized prostate cancer were managed by initial conservative therapy with subsequent hormonal therapy given at the time of symptomatic disease progression.
This study showed that the patients with grade 1 or grade 2 tumors experienced a disease-specific survival of 87% at 10 years and that their overall survival (OS) closely approximated the expected survival among men of similar ages in the general population.
Radical prostatectomy, usually with pelvic lymphadenectomy (with or without the nerve-sparing technique designed to preserve potency) is the most commonly applied therapy with curative intent.[7,8,9] Radical prostatectomy may be difficult after a transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP).
Because about 40% to 50% of men with clinically organ-confined disease are found to have pathologic extension beyond the prostate capsule or surgical margins, the role of postprostatectomy adjuvant radiation therapy has been studied.