A post-surgery increase of PSA (usually three increases) is the definition for a prostate cancer recurrence. The best response after these increases is to radiate the prostate bed in hopes for stopping any stray cancer cells that had escaped prior to surgery. Using salvage radiation is the only remaining treatment modality that might allow a man to regain control the disease (sometimes referred to as a cure).

Deciding to have salvage radiation is not always an easy choice as radiation is thought to have its own toxicity issues. To evaluate how significant of these toxic effects really are there was just a study completed out of the Mayo Clinic. It is the largest single-institution study of the complications from post-surgery radiation to date. The study found few complications in prostate cancer patients treated with radiotherapy after surgery. The study will be published in the October issue of Radiotherapy and Oncology.

“There is a general fear of this kind of radiation treatment on the part of some patients and their physicians, but this study shows that it not only effectively eradicates the recurrent cancer in a substantial number of patients, but that there are few serious side effects,” says the study’s lead investigator, Jennifer Peterson, M.D., from the Department of Radia