PSA Still Best Predictor of Prostate Cancer Recurrence

Study counters recent claims that test might not be effective

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FRIDAY, Sept. 23, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Measuring the blood protein prostate specific antigen (PSA) is still the best method of predicting the likelihood of cancer recurrence after prostate cancer surgery, according to a Johns Hopkins University study appearing in the October issue of the Journal of Urology.

The finding counters recent claims by some experts that PSA tests may not be effective in predicting prostate cancer risk. PSA is a protein produced by the prostate gland that increases in the presence of prostate cancer.

The study of more than 2,300 men concluded that those with high PSA levels before prostate-removing surgery were much more likely to have advanced cancer, and evidence of higher-grade cancers in tissue removed during the surgery.

Increasing PSA levels were significantly associated with increased risk of cancer recurrence after prostate surgery, even in men who had lower PSA levels before surgery, the study found. Men with PSA levels of 20 nanograms per milliliter were five times more likely to develop cancer after surgery than men with PSA levels of less than 10 nanograms per milliliter.

"In our study, PSA levels measured before prostate removal surgery were significantly associated with the risk of recurrent cancer after surgery. These data support the notion that PSA remains the best available prostate cancer tumor marker. It certainly suggests that the PSA era is alive and well," study leader Dr. Stephen J. Freedland, a clincial instructor of urology, said in a prepared statement.

"From our study and others, it is clear that a single PSA value is an extremely useful measure of a patient's risk of progression after surgery. However, looking at how quickly the PSA increases over time is likely to be even more informative than a single value," Freedland said.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about prostate cancer.

SOURCE: Johns Hopkins Medicine, news release, Sept. 19, 2005

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