How long can you survive with prostate cancer?
Diagnosis, monitoring, and determining a prognosis for prostate cancer is far from simple, but each step plays an important role in guiding cancer treatment—and helping patients make informed choices about their futures.
Monitoring and prognosis are unquestionably important to patients, but their assessment is not always easy. Doctors often use images of tumors, biopsies, and levels of substances in the blood to make their estimates, but the specific methods differ from cancer to cancer.
In prostate cancer, medical professionals use the levels of specific proteins in the prostate, called prostate-specific antigen (PSA), to help monitor the development of disease. New research suggests that the rate of change of those levels may be more useful than simply recording the levels themselves.
In a recent Oncoscience paper, researchers in St. Petersburg examined whether prostate-specific antigen doubling time could be used to track the progression of prostate cancer. Prostate-specific antigen doubling time is simply the amount of time it takes the levels of prostate-specific antigen to double, and the researchers hypothesized that the speed of doubling would help predict the speed of tumor growth, and therefore prognosis.
Improving Prostate Cancer Prognosis Estimates
Researchers studied the PSA doubling time in 912 prostate cancer patients, examining whether PSA doubling time correlated with the rate of cancer progression.
The results showed that patients with fast prostate-specific antigen doubling time showed shorter survival times than patients with longer PSA doubling time. This matched the original hypothesis; it makes sense that a rapid increase in the level of prostate-specific antigen would mean that cancer, a disease known for rapid growth of cells, was progressing.
In other words, the rate of increase in prostate-specific antigen may help doctors figure out the prognosis for prostate cancer patients. It could also be helpful when monitoring prostate cancer; when patients in remission relapse, the rate of increase of PSA could be related to the progression of their disease.
The authors of the paper believed that this “study confirmed the prognostic value of pretreatment PSADT in prostate cancer patients independently of cancer progression.” Understanding the rate of progression and likely survival time could help doctors and patients make better decisions about care.