PSA tests (prostate-specific antigen) are widely used in the United States to help identify men who may have a higher risk of prostate cancer. A recent study published by JAMA Oncology has described a unique new way to use the PSA test. The hope is that men who are likely to die early from prostate cancer which returns after an initial treatment, are able to be clearly pinpointed.
Data from a randomized trial of 157 men whose localized cancer was treated either with radiation alone or radiation combined with six months of androgen deprivation therapy was used by the researchers. The participants were then followed for 18 years post-trial.
The data collected during this trial showed that a PSA nadir — the lowest level a PSA reading drops after treatment — greater than 0.5 ng/ml appears to identify men who are at high risk for dying early as a result of their initial treatment failing.
Approximately 66% of all prostate cancer deaths in this country occur in males with localized cancer that ultimately spreads to other places in the body. This new method of using PSA testing can help doctors identify men who may benefit from more aggressive secondary treatment. It also may help get them this treatment earlier.