Purpose: To assess prostate-specific antigen (PSA) failure definitions for patients with Stage T1-T2 prostate cancer treated by permanent prostate brachytherapy.
Methods and materials: A total of 2,693 patients treated with radioisotopic implant as solitary treatment for T1-T2 prostatic adenocarcinoma were studied. All patients had a pretreatment PSA, were treated at least 5 years before analysis, 1988 to 1998, and did not receive hormonal therapy before recurrence. Multiple PSA failure definitions were tested for their ability to predict clinical failure.
Results: Definitions which determined failure by a certain increment of PSA rise above the lowest PSA level to date (nadir + x ng/mL) were more sensitive and specific than failure definitions based on PSA doubling time or a certain number of PSA rises. The sensitivity and specificity for the nadir + 2 definition were 72% and 83%, vs. 51% and 81% for 3 PSA rises. The surgical type definitions (PSA exceeding an absolute value) could match this sensitivity and specificity but only when failure was defined as exceeding a PSA level in the 1-3 ng/mL range and only when patients were allowed adequate time to nadir. When failure definitions were compared by time varying covariate regression analysis, nadir + 2 ng/mL retained the best fit.
Conclusions: For patients treated by permanent radioisotopic implant for prostate cancer, the definition nadir + 2 ng/mL provides the best surrogate for failure throughout the entire follow-up period, similar to patients treated by external beam radiotherapy. Therefore, the same PSA failure definition could be used for both modalities. For brachytherapy patients with long-term follow-up, at least 6 years, defining failure as exceeding an absolute PSA level in the 0.5 ng/mL range may be reasonable.