News | February 14, 2008

Prostate Cancer Biopsy More Informative Than Previously Thought

February 15, 2008 - A new Fox Chase Cancer Center study recently suggested that a biopsy reveals more important information about a man's prostate cancer than previously understood.

Doctors hope the new findings will help them tailor radiation treatment.

"Radiotherapy offers the chance of a cure for most patients,” said Mark K. Buyyounouski, M.D., M.S., attending physician in the radiation oncology department at Fox Chase Cancer Center. “For some, however, an elevated PSA level after treatment indicates the cancer is still around or has come back. Our new study shows how we can use biopsy information prior to treatment to help us predict which patients are most likely to still have disease after treatment. With this knowledge, we can better tailor treatment."

In the study presented by Buyyounouski today at the 2008 Genitourinary Cancers Symposium in San Francisco, researchers compared prostate biopsies taken before treatment with those taken again two years after treatment. All the study volunteers had cancers that were classified as intermediate or high risk.

“Larger tumors are believed to be more likely to persist after treatment, but what defines a larger tumor has been controversial,” Buyyounouski said. “What we found was that a high percentage of cancer observed in the biopsy taken before treatment correlated with a higher probability of a positive biopsy after treatment. This information is important because locally persistent prostate cancer may result in laterspread of the disease and possibly death.”

Buyyounouski said other researchers have explored the use of biopsy information to identify higher risk of recurrence for men with prostate cancer. Using a percentage of positive biopsy cores has been advocated by some, but these types of studies compared the cores to PSA level after treatment and not post-treatment biopsies.

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