Treating the biochemical recurrence of prostate cancer after definitive primary therapy.
As increasing numbers of men are living longer with prostate cancer, larger proportions will eventually present to our collective practices with increasing prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels. Such PSA relapses, conservatively estimated to affect approximately 50,000 men each year, have become the most common form of advanced prostate cancer. Salvage radiation therapy and salvage prostatectomy have important roles in our therapeutic armamentarium and should be valid options for young, healthy men. Counseling patients regarding expectations for cancer control and treatment morbidity has become better because of reports from larger series of patients who have had salvage radiation therapy and surgery. Some patients may not be appropriate candidates for salvage local therapies. A growing body of evidence suggests early hormonal therapy improves progression-free survival (PFS) and could alter cancer-specific survival. This benefit seems to be greatest when hormonal therapy is initiated while PSA levels are low, before clinically measurable disease becomes apparent. However, there is a cost to be paid in side effects and health care dollars when androgen deprivation is administered over prolonged periods. The nonsteroidal antiandrogen agent bicalutamide could offer PFS equivalent to that seen with castration without the complications of androgen deprivation. Observational data seem to indicate that individuals at high risk could also receive benefit from therapy administered before PSA detection. The potential opportunities for novel therapeutic agents with low associated morbidity are great.
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