The answer to this question is ‘Yes the cancer can recur.’ This is unfortunate, especially as it has been a difficult time for you going through the diagnosis and the treatment. You may still be on drugs as part of the treatment. There is a risk that all the tumors were not destroyed during the therapy and so the cancerous cells are still there. A doctor should have warned you that the chances of prostate cancer recurring are high and therefore you should be watchful and treat the symptoms quickly.
If the cancer has not spread beyond the prostate then it can be cured. However, it cannot be determined with certainty as to how far the cancer has spread to other parts of the body and whether all the cells have been eliminated. There should generally be a process of monitoring even after you finish with the treatment and it seems that the cancer has been removed.
If you have had surgery to remove the prostate gland then the doctor will check it to glean information as to whether the cancer can return. This he can do by examining how far the cancer has spread. You should take a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test that will determine if the tumors still exist in your body. The amount of PSA will be higher in the blood if cancer is present. Both normal and cancerous cells produce PSA. This level should be zero after surgery if all prostate cells have been removed. Take this test every quarter for two years after surgery and biannually for five years after that. Beyond this time frame the chances of the cancer recurring decreases but to be on the safe side you can take the test once a year.
If the PSA is high then the doctor will determine which area of the body the cancer has recurred in and start you again on a course of treatment. Hormone therapy is indicated if the PSA level rises. You can defer treatment while watching to see how high the PSA level rises and the doctors will test you every three months. But if the symptoms of cancer develop then you need to go in for active treatment.
Prostate cancer can return to affect the seminal vesicles or the tissue surrounding the prostate, or the pelvic or outside lymph nodes. The rectum and the pelvic wall may also be affected. The follow-up treatment if prostate cancer recurs depends on the kind of treatment you have already undergone, the site of the recurrence, other infections you may have, how old you are, and other factors involving your medical history.
Make sure you monitor your progress even after undergoing the treatment for prostate cancer. Don’t leave it to chance as the risk is high that it may recur.
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