Journal of clinical oncology : official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology 2002-08-01
Radical radiation for localized prostate cancer: local persistence of disease results in a late wave of metastases.   
To assess whether failure to maintain local control (LC) of prostate cancer after radiation therapy results in a higher incidence of distant metastasis (DM).
From 1972 to 1999, 1,469 patients with clinically localized prostate cancer were treated with radical radiation therapy. Disease outcome was retrospectively reviewed for all patients with more than 2 years of follow-up.
The actuarial 10-year LC rate was 79%. Gleason score > or = 7, prostate-specific antigen (PSA) more than 15, and T3 to T4 tumors predicted a higher incidence of local failure (LF) (palpable recurrence or positive rebiopsy). The 10-year distant metastasis-free survival (DMFS) was 74%. Gleason score > or = 7, PSA more than 15, and T3 to T4 tumors predicted a higher incidence of distant failure. LF was the strongest predictor for DM in a multivariate model. The 10-year DMFS for LC and LF patients was 77% and 61%, respectively. Median time to distant failure was prolonged in patients with LF compared with patients with locally controlled disease (54 v 34 months). Hazard rate analysis of the time to DM revealed that patients who maintain LC have a lower rate of DM, which remains constant over time. Patients who ultimately develop LF have a higher initial rate of DM, which increases with time.
Patients with locally persistent prostate cancer are at greater risk of DM. The higher initial hazard of DM is consistent either with an increased likelihood of subclinical micrometastases before treatment or with posttreatment tumor embolization. The prolonged time to appearance of DM in locally failing patients and the increasing hazard of DM over time is most consistent with a late wave of metastases from a locally persistent tumor.

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