When Prostate Cancer Returns

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Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for prostate cancer to return after initial treatment. What this means is, simply, your physician did not completely cure you on the first go-round: some cancer cells remain in your system.

The cancer may have spread to the surrounding neighborhood: the tissue next to the prostate, the seminal vesicles, or the nearby lymph nodes. It's also possible for the prostate cancer to travel through the bloodstream and recur at points in the body relatively far away.

Besides your doctor “not just getting every bit” of the prostate cancer, there are other factors that may have a hand in its recurrence. One factor is your Gleason score; the higher the grade, the more likely the relapse. Another is its location; cancer cells in the lymph nodes in the pelvic region may be more likely to make a comeback. Finally, sheer geometry plays a role; the bigger the initial tumor was, the more likely it is the cancer will return.

The prevalence for prostate cancer popping back into the picture is the reason why your doctor will schedule check-ups for you every few months after your first treatment of the disease. He will check your protein-specific antigen – PSA – levels from a blood test, as this is a non-invasive and relatively accurate gauge of prostate cancer activity in your body. He will also give you a physical examination.

If your doctor determines that your prostate cancer is making a return engagement, he will likely schedule some imaging tests – such as X-rays or bone scans – to gauge the extent of its growth.

Once (re)discovered, what can be done about your prostate cancer? One path your physician may take is hormone therapy. This involves drawing upon medications that block the effects of male hormones, which can cause prostate cancer to grow, and drugs to prevent prostate cancer growth. Chemotherapy will be another likely option, as will a variety of treatments designed to ameliorate the symptoms of bone pain. These may include ultrasound, radiation therapy, certain drugs, or even extreme cold

Ultimately, follow-up treatment for your recurring prostate cancer depends on what treatment you had already, the extent of your cancer, the site of recurrence, other illnesses you might already be battling, your age, and your overall medical condition.