Prostate specific antigen (PSA) is a hormone put out by the prostate gland. A blood test to screen for PSA is used to detect the presence of prostate cancer. After radiation treatment, some patients see a bounce in PSA level. Not to worry, Japanese researchers say. That’s just the return to a healthy sex life. In a study published in the International Journal of Urology, PSA bounce was found to be normal in men who underwent radiotherapy. It is hard to distinguish between resurgence of the cancer and a normal bounce. Surgery to treat prostate cancer on the other hand, brings PSA down to undetectable levels after surgery.
It never again resurges. Those who are younger when they undergo treatment are more likely to see a PSA bounce. Researchers at the Keio University School of Medicine in Tokyo conducted the study, led by Masashi Matsushima, MD. He and his team wondered if sexual function led to PSA bounces. To find out, they reviewed the cases of 154 patients treated with brachytherapy for localized prostate cancer.
This is when irradiated seeds are placed inside the gland to slowly kill off the tumor. It is a very effective treatment which has less of a chance of sexual dysfunction and other side effects. These patients were followed for two years after they left the medical center. The men in this study had their erectile function assessed before and after treatment. A little over 24% of men saw a PSA bounce. ED function scores tended to be higher in those who saw a bounce, than those who didn’t. Patients who did see a bounce were younger and more likely to have less pronounced cancer.
Researchers dug a little deeper and found that these men were more likely to be engaging in intercourse once again. This finding will help physicians determine whether or not follow up tests warrant further investigation, and possibly save patients from biopsies, other diagnostics, and expense. The most important thing for those who have not undergone treatment is to stay vigilant about prostate cancer, starting at age 50. Though potentially deadly, it gives no symptoms until it is too late. That’s why men 50 and above should inquire about an annual prostate cancer screening with a doctor or urologist.