Objectives: To study prospectively the prognostic significance of the reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay for patients with prostate cancer treated definitively with external beam radiotherapy. The RT-PCR assay for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) has been used to detect circulating prostate cancer cells in the serum of patients with prostate cancer.
Methods: In prospective fashion, serum RT-PCR testing was performed before and/or after definitive therapy, with the results scored as positive or negative. The results were analyzed for 161 patients, and the RT-PCR result was correlated with the treatment outcome.
Results: The median follow-up was 29 months. The pretreatment RT-PCR result was not predictive of biochemical relapse-free survival (bRFS) or clinical disease-free survival (DFS). Of 25 patients with T3-T4 tumors, those with a negative pretreatment RT-PCR result had better bRFS and a trend was noted toward better DFS compared with those with a positive result. Among patients with Gleason score 8 to 10 tumor who underwent pretreatment testing (n = 19), those with a negative RT-PCR result had better bRFS and DFS compared with those with a positive result. A trend toward better bRFS was seen for patients with negative versus positive post-treatment RT-PCR results. The DFS was better for patients with negative versus positive post-treatment RT-PCR results.
Conclusions: RT-PCR, when obtained before radiotherapy, may be predictive of outcome for patients with more advanced stages or higher Gleason scores. Post-treatment testing predicted for clinical relapse. Additional study is needed before RT-PCR is used regularly in clinical practice.