If you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer and been treated, you may be wondering what it means when your doctor tells you that new cells were detected on your abdominal MRI. A study performed by the Prostate Cancer Specialists of New Mexico examined the specific cases of patients returning to Santa Fe after treatment, with the goal of determining the frequency of prostate cancer recurrence in Santa Fe and how it’s affecting the lives of men here in town. Here’s what they found…
What is a PSA test?
A PSA test is a screening test used to detect cancer in men who have no signs or symptoms. This blood test measures a protein called PSA (prostate-specific antigen), which can be elevated when prostate cancer is present. If PSA levels are high, it may indicate cancer. However, prostate tumors often produce PSA but aren’t cancerous, so further testing is done to determine whether further treatment is necessary. This usually involves an abdominal MRI and/or a biopsy.
What is an abdominal MRI?Abdominal MRI Santa Fe
An abdominal MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is a safe, non-invasive way to investigate abnormalities of your internal organs and soft tissues without having to undergo surgery. During an abdominal scan, doctors create pictures of your body using radio waves. Doctors will inject a small amount of dye into a vein so they can see internal structures more clearly. Your technician or doctor will ask you to lie very still while he or she takes images inside your body.
What does it mean if the cells are found?
The PSA test is also a screening tool for prostate cancer, but not everyone agrees that it is accurate. An abdominal MRI is more sensitive, meaning it detects cancer cells earlier than either the PSA or digital rectal exam. It can also be used to determine whether there has been a recurrence of prostate cancer after treatment. For example, an abdominal MRI will detect new cancers or tumors even if they are less than one centimeter wide.
What do doctors do when they find abnormal cells?
Doctors don’t try to remove these cells by surgery if they can’t be identified or if they aren’t actively growing. If, however, more and more cancerous cells are detected, there is a good chance that treatment will be recommended. But what kind? Recurrence of prostate cancer after surgery involves different considerations than initial diagnosis and treatment.
What kind of treatments can you have?
After prostate cancer recurs, it’s important to consider what treatments are available and which one is right for you. Some patients opt to try watchful waiting or active surveillance, hoping that new cells won’t be a problem. Others opt for robotic surgery or other procedures to remove a little more tissue from their prostate.
Can you live a normal life after treatment?
Once your prostate cancer has been successfully treated, you may wonder if you can live a normal life again. Although recurrence is relatively uncommon after successful treatment, you should watch for any new symptoms and return to your physician immediately if any are present. The American Cancer Society recommends men speak with their doctors about receiving a follow-up blood test 6 to 12 months after treatment ends to ensure there are no signs of disease recurrence.
How do you know if there is a recurrence?
If a new area is detected, it doesn’t always mean a recurrence. There may be new cells that are unrelated to your original cancer. In order to determine whether or not you have a recurrence, we recommend having an abdominal MRI performed as soon as possible after learning about any new cells.
Living with recurrent prostate cancer
When you learn that your prostate cancer has returned, you may feel afraid and overwhelmed. What are my options? What is my risk of dying from prostate cancer? Can I live a normal life? Will I be cured? Your doctor will be able to answer these questions. Men with recurrent prostate cancer can enjoy a normal life expectancy if they take precautions to watch for recurrences.