Yet, since the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening test became widely available about a decade ago, more men than ever are receiving treatment for prostate cancer even though it's clear that not all patients benefit equally from aggressive therapy. Treatment usually begins with a prostate biopsy and can include radiation, surgery and chemotherapy.
"This is the prostate cancer paradox," said Mark Garzotto, M.D., lead study investigator. "The big question is how to decide which men have life-threatening cancer. These men need aggressive treatment. Men who don't have deadly cancer potentially may instead be closely monitored, sparing them the side effects of treatments."
That's why researchers at the Oregon Health & Science University Cancer Institute and the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center (PVAMC) began searching for a way to predict which men have lethal prostate cancer before a biopsy.
What they came up with is a simple chart that urologists and oncologists can use to predict whether a deadly prostate cancer tumor is present. This chart, or nomogram, will help physicians and patients identify whether aggressive cancer is present, as these men are by far the most likely to benefit from treatment.
"Our model can help predict which men may have the most aggressive type of prostate cancer and which men can relax," said Garzotto, director of urologic oncology at the PVAMC, associate professor of surgery (urology) in the OHSU School of Medicine, and member of the OHSU Cancer Institute.
An outpatient procedure that requires local anesthesia, prostate biopsy can cause patient anxiety, pain, bleeding and infection, and can lead to a significant increase in me
Contact: Rachel MacKnight
Oregon Health & Science University