BACKGROUND: We evaluated whether men at risk for death from prostate cancer after radical prostatectomy can be identified using information available at diagnosis. METHODS: We studied 1095 men with localized prostate cancer to assess whether the rate of rise in the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level - the PSA velocity - during the year before diagnosis, the PSA level at diagnosis, the Gleason score, and the clinical tumor stage could predict the time to death from prostate cancer and death from any cause after radical prostatectomy. RESULTS: As compared with an annual PSA velocity of 2.0 ng per milliliter or less, an annual PSA velocity of more than 2.0 ng per milliliter was associated with a significantly shorter time to death from prostate cancer (P<0.001) and death from any cause (P=0.01). An increasing PSA level at diagnosis (P=0.01), a Gleason score of 8, 9, or 10 (P=0.02), and a clinical tumor stage of T2 (P<0.001) also predicted the time to death from prostate cancer. For men with an annual PSA velocity of more than 2.0 ng per milliliter, estimates of the risk of death from prostate cancer and death from any cause seven years after radical prostatectomy were also influenced by the PSA level, tumor stage, and Gleason score at diagnosis. CONCLUSIONS: Men whose PSA level increases by more than 2.0 ng per milliliter during the year before the diagnosis of prostate cancer may have a relatively high risk of death from prostate cancer despite undergoing radical prostatectomy.
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