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Sexual Activity May Cause PSA Fluctuations After Cancer Treatment

Men who are treated for prostate cancer using curative radiation therapy techniques, such as brachytherapy, may get a surprise they’re not expecting during routine follow-up prostate-specific antigen tests. A bounce in the numbers that occurs in some cases is no major cause for alarm though, researchers say. This up-and-down fluctuation in numbers is believed to be caused by nothing more than a man leading an active sex life following treatment.

To take a deeper look into this topic, researchers recently conducted a study on more than 150 men who were treated with prostate seed implants instead of radical prostatectomies. Over the course of 24 months, researchers found that about 25 percent of the men experienced a fluctuation in PSA numbers. The men who experienced slight ups and downs in their readings were found to be younger and sexually active. Researchers cannot fully explain the ups and downs in numbers, but assert that ejaculation itself may be to blame. Other studies have supported a possible connection between ejaculation and temporary PSA increases.

The PSA is used to help monitor patients following prostate cancer treatments. While a sustained elevation in the numbers may signal a biochemical recurrence, researchers say a temporary uptick generally does not.

Men who are treated for prostate cancer should keep up with any follow-up appointments with their healthcare providers. A temporary spike in PSA numbers may be no cause for alarm, but a large elevation that lasts could signal the need for more aggressive action.

An estimated 180,000 American men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year. Many of these men will find seed implants are a viable treatment option in their cases. This therapy involves the implantation of tiny radioactive pellets directly into the tumor. The treatment has been proven highly effective in tackling many forms of localized prostate cancer without necessarily requiring surgical intervention. Men diagnosed with prostate cancer should discuss all treatment options with their doctors. When feasible, seed implants may offer the benefits required without the need for more invasive treatments.