P S A are frightening letters for those diagnosed with prostate cancer, some 230,000 men every year. They stand for prostate-specific antigen, a protein the body secretes in excess when a man has the malignancy. It is used as a marker to both diagnose the disease and to detect its recurrence after surgery or radiation. Now, its rate of rise is seen as a marker of prostate-specific death.
New research shows that an increase of PSA in the year before prostate cancer is treated apparently raises the risk of dying about 10-fold in men who had their tumors removed by surgery. Previously, physician-researchers found that a doubling of PSA after treatment with radiation is almost a sure predictor of death from the cancer, which kills about 30,000 men a year.
For full Gazette story, see http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2004/07.22/07-psa.html.