Objectives: We determined the role of Digital Rectal Examination (DRE) in the follow-up of those patients treated with radical prostatectomy for clinically localised prostate cancer having an undetectable PSA. We discuss the implications of our findings. Materials and methods: An analysis was performed of a prospectively organised data base of 1118 patients treated at our institution by radical prostatectomy after the introduction of PSA in 1987. A strict definition of PSA progression was used, that is any elevation above undetectable PSA or lowest recorded post-operative PSA (nadir), in order not to miss a single patient who may have recurrent local disease or distant metastases without PSA progression. We counted local recurrent disease as those patients having histologically proven adenocarcinoma on TRUS directed biopsies, and distant disease as those patients having detectable metastatic disease on radionuclide bone scan. Results: The median follow-up was 4.0 years (3 months to 15 years). 524 men (46.9%) had a follow-up of more than 5 years and 88 men (7.9%) of more than 10 years. A total of 397 men (35.5%) had biochemical progression according to our strict definition. 53 patients (4.7%) developed a histological local recurrence and 57 men (5.1%) developed bony metastases; none of these men had an undetectable PSA or a stable PSA at nadir level at the time of detection. They all demonstrated a rising PSA. Conclusions: DRE is no longer necessary in the routine follow-up of patients with an undetectable PSA after radical prostatectomy. Following a period of approximately 2 years of out-patient clinic follow-up post-operatively in which issues such as incontinence and erectile dysfunction are addressed and treated, it is possible to restrict follow-up to PSA determinations alone and as long as the PSA remains undetectable counselling can be carried out by a nurse practitioner.

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doi.org/10.1016/j.eururo.2005.07.006, hdl.handle.net/1765/66377
European Urology : Official Journal of the European Association of Urology
Department of Urology

Chaplin, P.J, Wildhagen, M.F, Schröder, F.H, Kirkels, W.J, & Bangma, C.H. (2005). Digital rectal examination is no longer necessary in the routine follow-up of men with undetectable prostate specific antigen after radical prostatectomy: The implications for follow-up. European Urology : Official Journal of the European Association of Urology, 48(6), 906–910. doi:10.1016/j.eururo.2005.07.006