A complex surgical procedure to remove the prostate achieves excellent long-term survival for men with prostate cancer after radiation therapy has failed. Radiation therapy is a primary treatment for prostate cancer; however, approximately 25% of patients who undergo radiation therapy experience cancer recurrence.1

Prostate cancer is diagnosed in approximately 1 in 7 men at some point in their lives, according to the National Institutes of Health.

“Prostate cancer, unfortunately, is a common cancer, and more than 27 000 men are estimated to have died from the disease in 2015,” said Naveen Pokala, MD, an assistant professor in the Division of Urology at the University of Missouri School of Medicine in Columbia, and lead author of the study.

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“By studying a national database of prostate cancer cases, we found that a procedure known as salvage radical prostatectomy can greatly increase a man’s chance of survival when traditional radiation therapy has failed to eradicate the cancer.”

The research team used the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) program database to study 364 patients who underwent a salvage radical prostatectomy surgery after unsuccessful radiation treatments. Analysis of the survival rates for this group revealed that 88.6% of the men were still alive 10 years later and 72.7% were still alive 20 years later.

A salvage radical prostectomy involves surgical removal of the prostate gland and surrounding tissue with the goal of preventing metastasis. Radiation treatment leaves the tissue surrounding the prostate scarred, and that scarring makes it challenging for the surgeon to identify and cut out tissue that needs to be removed. Localized cancer can be treated by a highly skilled surgeon removing the prostate gland and surrounding tissue.

“Because radical prostatectomy is a complex surgery, there can be a reluctance to undergo the procedure,” Pokala said. “However, this study shows that it is a viable treatment option. This can bring a renewed hope and peace of mind to men living with prostate cancer.”


1. Pokala N, Huynth DL, Henderson AA, Johans C. Survival outcomes in men undergoing radical prostatectomy after primary radiation treatment for adenocarcinoma of the prostate [published online ahead of print December 7, 2015]. Clin Genitourin Cancer. doi:10.1016/j.clgc.2015.12.010.