Frequently Asked Questions

Recurrence of Prostate Cancer

Q: What is the average time to prostate cancer recurrence, regrowth of cancer, after treatment?

A: The average time to recurrence is 2 ½ – 3 years after whatever treatment you receive – whether radiation or surgery. You can have recurrence immediately after treatment or it can recur many years later, even more than 10 years after treatment.

Q: So, to be cured, my PSA must go to zero and stay there. How long would my PSA have to be zero so that I would know I am cured and the cancer would never come back?

A: At least 15 years. Most recurrences (75%) occur in the first five years after treatment, but 25% occur after five years including 5% after 10 years. Over 99.5% of recurrences occur by 15 years after treatment. So, we use 15 years as the standard time to see if a man has a zero PSA. However, a rare patient can have recurrence after 15 years.

Q: What happens when men have prostate cancer recurrence and are not cured of their prostate cancer?

A: Most men with recurrence will eventually need hormone treatment to try to control their prostate cancer. Hormones have a lot of side effects. Ultimately, one of every three men with recurrence dies because of their prostate cancer. Obviously, if a man is cured, none of this happens.