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What Happens If Prostate Cancer Comes Back?

If prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels remain high or become elevated after prostate cancer treatment, these are indications of a prostate recurrence. The approach for treating a prostate cancer recurrence varies based on a number of factors including the following.

  • The type(s) of previous cancer treatment(s) received by the patient.
  • The extent and location of the cancer recurrence.
  • The age of the patient and other existing medical conditions.

Patients treated with traditional surgical, radiation and chemotherapy treatments often require follow-up treatment. CyberKnife can be used in conjunction with traditional cancer therapies, as well as immunotherapy and proton therapy, to manage and reduce prostate cancer recurrences.

Prostate cancer recurrence is often emotionally deflating for patients who have already endured treatment and their loved ones. Fortunately, Anova Cancer Care’s CyberKnife radiotherapy treatment may be an appropriate therapy option for recurrent cancers, with fewer side effects and less down time.

Learn What to Expect from CyberKnife Treatment

How oncologists diagnose prostate cancer recurrence

After prostate cancer treatment, the amount of PSA in a patient’s blood typically drops and remains stable. Following treatment, many men receive regular medical checkups that include routine PSA testing. If PSA levels begin to rise, it can be a sign of a prostate cancer recurrence.

Additional testing may be required to determine if rising PSA levels indicate a recurrence or the spread of the cancer to other parts of the body. Doctors may use X-rays, bone scans or perform an Axumin PET scan, which uses calcium-related radioactive substances to locate cancerous cells throughout the body. Unlike standard methods of screening, which require PSA levels in the 10-50 range to detect cancer, Axumin can identify cancerous tissue in patients with PSA levels under 10.

Types of prostate cancer recurrence

The two major types of prostate cancer recurrence that can be treated using CyberKnife are local and distant. Prostate cancer recurrences in the tissue surrounding the prostate, such as in the seminal vesicles, pelvic floor muscles or rectum, are known as local recurrences. Cancer recurrence outside the pelvis is known as a distant recurrence or metastatic cancer recurrence, for example, if a tumor has developed within distant lymph nodes.

In some cases, an individual may experience heightened PSA levels with no other clear indication of a cancer recurrence. For example, there may be no visible instances of cancer in the patient’s imaging tests. Patients with slow growing prostate cancers such as this may opt for active surveillance over treatment.

Likelihood of prostate cancer recurrence

Upon a patient’s initial diagnoses, several factors can point to an increased risk of prostate cancer recurrence. These include the size of the tumor, the stage/grade of cancer and whether the cancer has affected any of the lymph nodes.

Patients who have been diagnosed with more advanced stages of prostate cancer and patients who have higher Gleason scores (or grades of prostate cancer) are more likely to experience a recurrence. Patients who have larger tumors, or whose lymph nodes have been affected by prostate cancer, are also more likely to experience a recurrence.

CyberKnife for prostate cancer recurrences

CyberKnife offers patients precise treatment of recurring cancer tumors, with minimal side effects. CyberKnife stereotactic treatment is noninvasive, requires fewer sessions than traditional radiation, is often more effective than traditional treatments, and is often more comfortable for the patient than treatment alternatives. Unlike common treatments for prostate cancer recurrence such as radical prostatectomy and cryotherapy, CyberKnife carries little risk of causing incontinence, erectile dysfunction or lower sex drive.

Recurrent prostate cancer patients with hard to reach or inoperable distant tumors, and patients looking to avoid the harsh side effects and complications of other treatment options, should discuss CyberKnife with their physician. It’s important that these patients discuss their full medical history and previous cancer treatment protocols with their care team to determine an appropriate treatment plan.

CyberKnife after radiation therapy

CyberKnife can be a safe and effective alternative for patients who have previously undergone traditional radiation therapies, as these patients are often not eligible to undergo radiation therapy again due to an increased risk of severe side effects.

Make an appointment with our office, or contact us with your questions.