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What Is Recurrent Prostate Cancer?

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  • Written By: Gregory Hanson
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 22 September 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Recurrent prostate cancer is cancer of the prostate that has reappeared after being forced into remission. When prostate cancer is first detected, a variety of treatments can be employed in an effort to eliminate cancerous cells. These treatments are often very effective, especially if prostate cancer is detected early. Such treatments do not always eliminate all malignant cells, however, and recurrent prostate cancer results when some number of malignant cells survive treatment and begin to grow once more.

Prostate cancer is a variety of cancer that grows in the male prostate gland. This type of cancer typically appears later in life, almost always after age 40 and generally later than that. The long-term survival rate for patients with this variety of cancer is actually quite good and most patients who are diagnosed with prostate cancer live long enough to die of causes other than cancer.

A physician will use a blood test called the prostate-specific antigen test, or PSA test, to screen for biochemical indicators of potential cancer in the prostate. If this test shows the presence of abnormalities, then a prostate biopsy will be ordered, in which a sample of tissue is taken and tested for cancerous cells. Biopsy results will determine how aggressive the cancerous tissues are. Cancer cells that are more aggressive and more seriously mutated are apt to be more difficult to treat and to cause recurrent prostate cancer.

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A variety of treatment options may be used when dealing with prostate cancer. Radiation therapy is commonly used, as are several pharmaceutical treatments. Surgery is an option, especially in cases where the cancer has not spread beyond the prostate. Hormone therapy is also a useful treatment, as suppression of testosterone makes it very difficult for prostate cancer to grow and spread. Patients with recurrent prostate cancer may be especially well-served by this type of therapy.

After initial cancer treatment, there is always some risk of recurrence. In patients with prostate cancer, this risk is largely determined by the status of their cancer. Widespread cancers composed of very aggressive cancer cells are most likely to survive treatment and reappear as recurrent prostate cancer. The same PSA test that can be used to initially detect prostate cancer can be used to screen for recurrent prostate cancer, and if a recurrence is caught early, it can often be treated successfully.

In the event of recurrent prostate cancer, a doctor will likely recommend a modified treatment program rather than simply repeating the previous treatment. Treatment for recurrent cancer is more likely to involve a mixture of therapies. Radiation, surgery, drugs, and hormone treatment are often combined in such cases so as to maximize the chances of effectively treating any lingering cancerous cells.

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