The prognostic value of prostate specific antigen was evaluated to predict disease progression after endocrine therapy in patients with prostatic cancer. A total of 73 patients was studied (6 with stage B2, 16 with stage C, 9 with stage D1 and 42 with stage D2 disease). Endocrine therapy included bilateral orchiectomy, diethylstilbestrol diphosphate and luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone analogue. Pre-treatment serum prostate specific antigen levels were determined in all patients with an enzyme immunoassay kit. During a followup of 4 to 68 months (average 24 months) clinical disease progression occurred in 24 of the 73 patients. The pre-treatment prostate specific antigen level by itself did not predict disease progression. Changes in prostate specific antigen level with treatment were correlated with the interval to disease progression in the 44 patients who had prostate specific antigen determinations at regular intervals after endocrine therapy and whose initial level was greater than 10 ng./ml. Patients who had a decrease in the prostate specific antigen levels of 80% or more within 1 month after the beginning of therapy survived significantly longer free of disease progression (p < 0.001). Patients whose prostate specific antigen level remained elevated for more than 3 months had a higher risk of disease progression within 2 years. Our study suggests that patients with the more favorable prognosis can be identified early, after 1 to 3 months of endocrine therapy, but the rapid decrease in the prostate specific antigen levels.
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