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Urol Clin North Am. 2003 May;30(2):263-77.

Biochemical staging of prostate cancer.

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Scott Department of Urology, 6535 Fannin Street, Fondren 401, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


PSA continues to be one of the most effective and widely used cancer screening tools available. Its popularity in prostate cancer screening, however, has eroded its usefulness in the staging of this disease. As more men are screened every year on a routine basis with DRE and PSA, the average PSA at diagnosis has drifted down to well below 10 ng/mL in many centers, including ours. This trend is likely to accelerate, as a PSA cut off for prompting biopsy of the prostate of 2.5 ng/mL gains more widespread acceptance. The recent realization that, at these levels, serum PSA is more reflective of the presence of BPH than of the extent of cancer and, therefore, does not provide additional staging information, has renewed the search for new biochemical markers that are capable of predicting prostate cancer stage and prognosis. Because of the heterogeneity of this disease, it is unlikely that a single biochemical marker that is capable of accurately staging all prostate cancer patients will be found. For this reason, nomograms that are capable of integrating various parameters to predict stage and prognosis will remain indispensable. As new biochemical markers that provide independent predictive information about stage or prognosis are identified, they can be incorporated into currently available nomograms. Of the biochemical markers discussed in this article, IL-6sR and TGF-beta1 are the most promising. By incorporating them into a preoperative nomogram designed to predict PSA recurrence, we found that they improved the ability to predict biochemical recurrence by a statistically and clinically significant margin. The ability to stage prostate cancer and predict response to therapy has improved dramatically over the last 3 decades. Nevertheless, there is still a need for new biochemical markers that will improve the ability to predict an individual patient's stage and response to therapy. Incorporating these new markers into nomograms will enhance the ability to provide optimal care for each prostate cancer patient.

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