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Biochemically recurrent prostate cancer in the era of EMBARK and PSMA PET imaging: everything has changed, except the patients.

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Patients with biochemically recurrent prostate cancer (BCR) after unsuccessful curative therapies frequently have an indolent and asymptomatic disease course for years. There are no prospective data showing that treating BCR improves overall survival despite new imaging strategies and emerging therapeutic data. Managing BCR requires a unique perspective in oncology that balances toxicities and disease kinetics.

RECENT FINDINGS: Prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA) imaging is now widely available and can define subclinical disease in patients with BCR who otherwise have negative CT and bone scans, but limited data exists showing that treating PSMA-positive disease has long term impact. A phase 3 trial demonstrated that the androgen receptor pathway inhibitor enzalutamide either alone or with androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) was superior in delaying metastasis, relative to ADT alone. Survival benefits from this study remain unknown.

SUMMARY: BCR is a heterogeneous population where overtreatment may present greater risk to patients than a disease course that is often indolent. Management of BCR should be individualized based on disease kinetics. Given the unique biology of BCR, future therapeutic research should emphasize an approach that alters disease trajectory without accompanying side effects and should explore options beyond ADT-based strategies.

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