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Talking About Prostate Cancer Recurrence

It is hard to say which day is harder: the day you first learned you had prostate cancer, or the day you found out it came back.

According to the results of our 2020 Prostate Cancer In America survey, 11 percent of respondents have had at least one recurrence, while another 2 percent have had three or more recurrences. More than 1,000 men with prostate cancer completed the survey and offered insight into their condition.

Everyone's prostate cancer is unique

It is important to note that when it comes to prostate cancer, not every recurrence is created equal. Some forms of recurrence may be aggressive, whereas others may not even require immediate or aggressive treatment.

To find out more about what recurrence looks like for community members, we reached out to followers of our Facebook page and asked members to fill in the blank: “My prostate cancer has come back ______ times.”

More than 70 people commented. Here is what they said.

“It has not come back.”

Thankfully, the number-one answer from members was that their prostate cancer has not come back. For many men, their prostate cancer was detected early on and responded well to treatment. This is the best scenario one could hope for.

“It has not come back in 17 years.”

“0. Thank you, Jesus!”

“Zero times, and it has been almost 21 years. Lucky man!”

“It has not come back. It has been 12 years now.”

“Once, immediately after surgery.”

Resurfacing after radical prostatectomy surgery

It is not uncommon for prostate cancer to show up again after a radical prostatectomy surgery. In this case, suggested treatments often include radiation therapy and hormone therapy. Some men choose what is known as active surveillance – that is, closely monitoring the cancer and receiving frequent tests for prostate-specific antigens, or PSAs.

“Once, immediately after surgery.”

“Once, after Cyberknife radiation.”

“Once, after 10 years.”

Years between prostate cancer recurrence

For others in the community, prostate cancer showed up again years after their first diagnosis. If prostate cancer shows up a second time, it is better if the length of time between being cancer-free and remission is longer. For those who had years before the cancer showed up again, that is a good thing.

“Once, 2 years to the month after my prostatectomy. Happy to say, that positive PSA was 5 years ago.”

“Once. Prostatectomy in 2000, then 7 weeks of radiation and hormone therapy in 2005.”

“Once, after 10 years.”

“Never gone in 7 years.”

Not yet in full remission

Some community members shared that they have not yet been in full remission from their prostate cancer. Prostate cancer does not always respond to treatment. However, since it is a type of cancer that spreads very slowly, it often allows someone many more years ahead.

“Never gone in 7 years.”

“Zero! It never went away. Still in treatment 4-and-a-half years later.”

“Has never gone away.”

Continue the conversation in the comments

We are grateful to everyone who answered this prompt and shared whether their prostate cancer has come back.

Keep the conversation going in the comments! Tell us whether you've experienced recurrence and what advice you would offer to others.

The 2020 Prostate Cancer In America survey was conducted online from November 2019 through April 2020. 1,162 people completed the survey.

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