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Agent Orange exposure increases veterans' risk of aggressive recurrence of prostate cancer
Date:4/20/2009

AUGUSTA, Ga. - Veterans exposed to Agent Orange are at increased risk of aggressive recurrence of prostate cancer, researchers report.

A study of 1,495 veterans who underwent radical prostatectomy to remove their cancerous prostates showed that the 206 exposed to Agent Orange had nearly a 50 percent increased risk of their cancer recurring despite the fact that their cancer seemed relatively nonaggressive at the time of surgery. And, their cancer came back with a vengeance: the time it took the prostate specific antigen, or PSA, level to double an indicator of aggressiveness was eight months versus more than 18 months in non-exposed veterans.

"There is something about the biology of these cancers that are associated with prior Agent Orange exposure that is causing them to be more aggressive. We need to get the word out," says Dr. Martha Terris, chief of urology at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta and professor of urology at the Medical College of Georgia School of Medicine.

Dr. Terris, corresponding author on the study published in the May issue of British Journal of Urology International, says she wants her colleagues following prostate cancer patients with Agent Orange exposure to know those patients may need more meticulous scrutiny and so-called salvage therapy quickly if their prostate cancer returns. "Not only are their recurrence rates higher but their cancers are coming back and growing much faster when they do come back," the Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Scholar says.

The PSA of prostate cancer patients is typically measured every three months for two years after surgery then every six months for life. After surgery to remove the diseased prostate, the PSA should be zero, but any prostate cancer cells left behind continue to make PSA, a red flag of recurrence, Dr. Terris says. The PSA often "percolates along" so physicians tend to watch it for a while to determine if additional the
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Contact: Toni Baker
tbaker@mcg.edu
706-721-4421
Medical College of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert  

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