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PSA testing is not only important for initially diagnosing prostate cancer in men, it plays a crucial role in assessing the possibility of a recurrence of the disease. A new study says that the time between a man's final radiation treatment and the beginning of rising PSA levels may be one of the most accurate predictors of a return of prostate cancer.
After examining the medical records of 2,132 men with prostate cancer, the team found that among several risk factors, biochemical failure, another term for rising PSA levels, was most closely associated with an individual's five- and 10-year survival rate.
The team said the findings could have important implications for directing cancer treatments. If this type of situation is caught early, doctors may be able to start radiation therapy again and improve the survival rate. Additionally, if the test score shows that an individual has a particularly poor outlook, doctors may decide not to restart treatment, which can spare the patient from side effects.
"We've learned that the sooner a patient experiences biochemical failure after the completion of radiation treatment, the more likely it is that he is going to develop metastases and die of prostate cancer. This new tool uses that information to predict the risk of death on an individual basis," said lead researcher Mark Buyyounouski.
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