According to a study last year at Fox Chase Cancer Center, men whose prostate specific antigen (PSA) rise within 18 months of having primary radiotherapy are more likely to develop advanced prostate cancer and die of their disease.

The study was presented by oncologist Mark K. Buyyounouski, M.D., M.S. at last year’s annual meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO).

Dr. Buyyounouski said, “PSA is the gold standard for following prostate cancer patients after they receive radiation or surgery. But we don’t know if having PSA rise sooner means a patient has a greater danger of dying of prostate cancer, though it seems logical.”

Buyyounouski and his colleagues showed previously that men who suffered an early biochemical failure, which is defined as their lowest PSA level (nadir) plus 2 ng/mL, were at greater risk of dying of prostate cancer. This study confirms these conclusions.

This study has immediate potential clinical value to any of us who has had primary radiotherapy. “Now we can use the simple criteria from this study, which is widely available for anyone who has PSA testing, to identify men who have a greater than 25% chance of dying from prostate cancer in the next five years. That is huge. There i