Role of salvage radical prostatectomy for recurrent prostate cancer after radiation therapy
Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
Patients with isolated local recurrence of prostate cancer after radiation therapy may potentially be cured of their disease by salvage radical prostatectomy (RP). The stage-specific 5-year cancer-control rates of salvage RP resemble those of standard RP. However, the ability to effectively administer salvage treatment to patients with radiorecurrent disease is compromised by the lack of diagnostic tests with sufficient sensitivity and specificity to detect local recurrence at an early stage while it is amenable to local salvage therapy. By the time biochemical recurrence is declared using the current American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology definition, the majority of patients have advanced local disease, precluding successful local salvage therapy. When salvage RP is performed at prostate-specific antigen levels of 10 ng/mL or less, an estimated 70% of patients are free of disease at 5 years. With better patient selection and technical modifications, the morbidity associated with salvage RP has improved substantially. Rates of urinary incontinence and anastomotic stricture are acceptable, although one third of patients will experience these complications. Salvage cryotherapy is a minimally invasive alternative to salvage RP, but cancer-control rates appear to be inferior and it does not provide a clear advantage over salvage RP in terms of reduced morbidity. Patients with local recurrence after radiation therapy are at increased risk of metastatic progression and cancer-specific mortality. Currently, salvage RP represents the only curative treatment option for these patients. Salvage RP may favorably alter the natural history of biochemical recurrence after radiation therapy, but it must be instituted early in the course of recurrent disease to be effective.