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For decades, clinicians and researchers alike have been aware of major racial disparities in prostate cancer. Black men in the United States present more often, with higher PSA values, at younger ages, and are more likely to die from prostate cancer than their White counterparts. Within this framework of indisputable facts, there is a lot of discussion to what factors lead to these racial disparities. Is it genetics? Is it social determinants of health? Is it attitudes to the health system due to mistrust from many past horrible failed experiments (i.e. Tuskegee)?

Is it lifestyle differences? Is it all access to care? Recent data from the Veterans Affairs Health System have suggested that when given equal access, outcomes among Black and White men can be similar. While this certainly supports the importance of access to care, this does not mean Black and White men present with equal rates of prostate cancer indicating residual disparities that cannot be explained by access alone. However, as we move forward with newer technologies (MRI, genomics, next generation imaging), whether Black patients truly have equal access to these advances is unknown.

The ability to predict clinical outcomes prior to starting therapy is the hallmark of precision oncology. The detection of the androgen receptor splice variant 7 (AR-V7) in circulating tumor cells (CTCs) has now been externally and prospectively validated in the multicenter PROPHECY study using both the Hopkins mRNA and the Epic Sciences nuclear protein assays, demonstrating strong and significant associations with worse progression free and overall survival (PFS and OS) and a lack of responses in men with mCRPC,1 but such AR-V7 positive men can still have good outcomes with taxane chemotherapy.2 However, a limitation of CTC AR-V7 detection is that CTCs are required to be present, and nearly half of men with mCRPC have low to absent CTCs despite disease progression. In addition, AR-V7 likely only explains about 20-30% of AR therapy cross-resistance, meaning that other resistance mechanisms such as AR indifference and neuroendocrine transformation/lineage plasticity are also important.
Biomarkers and more complex integration of panels in so-called molecular or genomic classifiers have reached the level of clinical implication after careful standardization (LDT) and clinical validation. Whether these molecular classifiers are actually used and alter treatment decisions is studied in this manuscript.

A genomic classifier (GC) with prognostic indication, Decipher (Decipher Biosciences), aids in the decision for adjuvant radiotherapy (ART). In this study, the authors show that whereas the decision would have been "observation" in 39% of pre-genomic testing cases, the recommendation changed. The authors conclude that the use of GC substantially altered treatment decision-making, with a number needed to test of only 3.

The majority of urologists performing radical prostatectomy in developed populations are doing so with robotic platforms. Since adopting this approach, many of us have observed that our patients appear to have less pain and recover more rapidly. If we are brutally honest with ourselves, we have all probably lowered our bar for accepting patients for surgery on the basis of overall health because they seem to handle robotic-assisted surgery better than open surgery. In my own practice, for patients not willing to consider radiotherapy and were frail by my own subjective assessment, I would routinely send these patients for a review by one of my internal medicine colleagues who is by training a geriatrician and has developed a special interest in perioperative medicine. Almost always, these patients were then being cleared for surgery and gradually I have found that I am operating on more of these types of patients apart from just older patients.

Urethral wall stents were introduced as a minimally invasive intervention for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) in the 1990s. Despite reports of longer-term efficacy in select patients,1,2 challenges with recurrent occlusion and stent migration3-5 prevented widespread adoption of this technology.

Over the past 10 years, however, novel designs and new materials have sparked renewed interest in developing the next generation of urethral stents.6 These investigators reported updated data on a single-arm study of 81 patients with symptomatic bladder outlet obstruction who received a temporary implantable nitinol device.7 The device—composed of three nitinol struts and an anti-migration anchoring leaflet—remained in place for 5 to 7 days, expanding and exerting radial force on the tissue to cause ischemic incisions at the 12, 5, and 7 o’clock positions. Implantation occurred under direct vision through a rigid 19F-22F cystoscope using light intravenous sedation, and removal through an open-ended 22F Foley catheter with topical anesthesia.

Treatments for prostate cancer have rapidly evolved over the past nearly 10 years. Prior to this, the only approved life-prolonging agent for advanced prostate cancer was docetaxel. However, that all changed with the approval of abiraterone and enzalutamide. Both drugs showed profound benefits for men with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC). For these men, survival was measured in months and thus, the long-term toxicity of any therapies was not relevant. Acute toxicities were generally mild and manageable. As such, these agents made a huge impact and became widely used.

Newer data suggest that both abiraterone and enzalutamide also improve survival when given to men with metastatic castration-sensitive prostate cancer (mCSPC). For these men, survival is not measured in months, but rather years. As such, long-term toxicities become more relevant and are of keen interest.

Gupta and colleagues report in Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases (PCAN) the characterization of Androgen Receptor (AR) null metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (AR null mCRPC) using a novel immunohistochemical assay combined with AR genotyping as part of the MSK-Impact next-generation sequencing panel at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Patients were selected to have non-neuroendocrine prostate cancer (NEPC) in order to identify a subgroup of adenocarcinoma patients that have lost AR expression. Such findings could identify those men less likely to benefit from AR inhibitors and who may benefit from alternative approaches. In this retrospective study of 26 men with mCRPC who underwent sequencing and AR IHC, 5 patients (19%) demonstrated loss of AR protein expression, which is in line with prior autopsy and mCRPC genomic survey studies of the prevalence of NEPC-like biomarkers in this setting.

We are seeing an increasing number of studies evaluating the role of fluorinated ligands for prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA) PET/CT. Data to this point in time has not shown any convincing diagnostic advantage or disadvantage with the use of either fluorine F 18 (F18 DCFPyL) and gallium (Ga) Ga68 HBEDD-11 PSMA PET/CT tracers although the former has obvious logistical benefits in busy nuclear medicine departments. This study by Witkowska-Patena and colleagues is amongst the first studies to look at a relatively new fluorinated tracer in the form of F18 PSMA-1007. This tracer is already becoming commercially readily available and well before we have good data on its utility and capability.

The justification for yet another PSMA tracer appears to be sound although this is not specifically discussed in the paper. The potential advantage of F18 PSMA-1007 is that there is significantly lower urinary excretion of the tracer; as a result, there is the minimization of tracer within the urine that could potentially impact the interpretation of tracer uptake in areas adjacent to the urinary tract.

The role of testosterone and prostate cancer is that of a "Janus head." Whereas the disease is driven by androgens, there is still conflicting data on the role of testosterone in relation to prostate cancer development. The debate is ongoing.

Sarkar and colleagues study the effect of testosterone therapy (TT) in men that were treated with curative intent (radiation therapy or surgery). From a significant cohort(~70,000 men) a group of men undergoing TT was compared to those who did not, and biochemical recurrence was used as an endpoint. The authors recognize the limitation that this an observational type of study, as time on testosterone, and serum testosterone values were not available.

In the constant search for better approaches to treat and ultimately prevent prostate cancer, it is essential that we better understand the underlying etiology of prostate cancer. In times like this, I am often discouraged by the common mantra that the only known risk factors for prostate cancer are “age, race, and family history”. Surely, there must be other risk factors. Over time, certain risk factors have revealed themselves – obesity (aggressive prostate cancer), diet (likely, but exact details still evolving), and smoking (aggressive prostate cancer) to mention a few. One common factor, but certainly not the only factor, linking obesity, diet, and smoking is they all increase inflammation. If true that increased inflammation drives more prostate cancer, then it begs the question of whether other conditions that are clearly inflammatory-related are linked with prostate cancer. With this background in mind, Ge and colleagues tested the association between inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and prostate cancer risk.

Active surveillance (AS) is an alternative to definitive therapy for patients with the National Comprehensive Cancer Network very low-risk, low-risk, and favorable intermediate-risk prostate cancer.1 However, 20% to 30% of AS patients will grade progress on follow-up biopsy or undergo treatment within five years.2-5 Prevention of grade progression in AS patients would decrease treatment incidence, reduce costs of care, and improve health-related quality of life in men on active surveillance.

5-alpha-reductase inhibitor (5ARI) therapy is one potential intervention to prevent progression in AS patients. Robust data demonstrate that 5ARIs diminish grade progression and the use of definitive treatment in AS patients.6 Nevertheless, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration black box label warning of possible risks of the incident high-grade disease remains, and the use of 5ARIs in men on AS to prevent progression has not been widely embraced. 

Black men face a pandemic of prostate cancer risk and lethality which will still be present long after COVID passes. As compared to White men, Black American men have a high risk of presenting with aggressive and metastatic disease and suffer a 2.4 fold higher risk of prostate cancer-specific mortality, and a nearly 10-fold higher risk of death from prostate cancer as compared to Asian American men. This disparity in outcomes is present in both rural and urban regions1 in the United States and some of the highest global regions of prostate cancer mortality are in Africa and the Caribbean. This racial disparity may be linked to differences in biology2,3, access to care4, differences in treatment receipt, comorbidities, differences in risks and exposures, and differences in screening and early detection. 

In light of this observed disparity, Krimphove and colleagues5 from Harvard analyzed the National Cancer Database for all men with metastatic or locally advanced prostate cancer between 2004-10 and compared outcomes by race. Overall, Black men were more likely to have metastatic disease in this cohort as compared to locally advanced disease, were less likely to receive surgery or radiation, were more likely to be uninsured, were more likely to be treated locally, and to have not completed a high school education.

It is now a decade ago that Provenge (sipuleucel-T), an autologous active cellular immunotherapy, was approved by the FDA. Many unanswered questions, still needed to be resolved. When to give this to which patient, i.e. timing and predictive patient characteristics are issues that need to be resolved.

Much of the push to perform transperineal prostate biopsy has been driven by concerns about increasing rates of sepsis associated with the transrectal approach to needle biopsy.

Historically, the strategy to minimize the infective complications of prostate biopsy had relied upon using more and more potent antibiotic regimens to combat growing bacterial resistance. A more recent approach to mitigate the risk of sepsis has been to use the more potent antibiotics in a targeted manner guided by rectal swabs prior to biopsy. However, the concept of chasing increasing antibiotic resistance with increasingly powerful antibiotics is a strategy that will never win. 

The transperineal approach to prostate needle biopsy is a logical way forward given that the risk of biopsy sepsis is minimal. It should be the standard of care approach to prostate biopsy but there is a reluctance to change practice and much of this is based upon the arguments that expensive equipment is necessary and that a general anesthetic is necessary. Recent advances are seeing these issues overcome.

In the past 10 years, the number of new treatment options for metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) has exploded. Prior to 2010, only one agent – docetaxel – had been shown to extend survival for mCRPC patients. Now, a decade later, we have many such agents beyond docetaxel, including abiraterone, enzalutamide, sipuleucel-T, radium-223, and cabazitaxel. In addition, two other agents have shown significant benefits in other disease settings prior to mCRPC – apalutamide and darolutamide. While all extend survival, in the mCRPC setting the added months of life, on average, range from ~2 to 5. Thus, if all the new agents are added together, it is well over a year of added life. However, can the survival months merely be added together? Alternatively, do you get the biggest bang with the first agents and subsequent agents add little? This is an important unanswered question.

Multiparametric magnetic resonance imaging (mpMRI) is a robust staging modality for high-risk prostate cancer. Less clear is whether pre-operative mpMRI may potentially improve radical prostatectomy outcomes by providing actionable information for planning neurovascular bundle excision, bladder neck sparing, and extent of staging lymph node dissection.

To address this question, these investigators performed a novel, single-center survey study of six urologic oncologists. Study participants were given two surveys incorporating 41 case studies of patients with clinically localized prostate cancer who underwent pre-operative mpMRI prostate followed by robot-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy and extended pelvic lymph node dissection.

Many adverse events have been described in men receiving androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), ranging from loss of bone density, hot flushes, cardiovascular risk, metabolic syndrome, cognitive dysfunction, and even less common risks such as deep vein thrombosis and colorectal cancer development. In the January 2019 edition of PCAN, Liu and colleagues describe a novel potential decreased risk of autoimmune diseases with ADT. This is intriguing for several reasons:

The dilemma that resulted from the widespread use of serum prostate-specific androgen (PSA) testing was the identification of a significant number of men with indolent pure red cell aplasia (PrCa). After a significant period of overtreatment, the implementation of active surveillance (AS) has partly solved that issue. However, 25-50 % of AS patients will undergo an intervention. The follow up is rather invasive including serum PSA and repeat biopsies.

Models based on clinical parameters can be used to predict repeat biopsy outcome, yet improved methods to asses the risk to predict adverse pathology are needed. Candidate tools are improved imaging and biomarkers. In the past decade, molecular urine biomarkers were introduced in clinical practice (i.e.Prostate Cancer Gene 3 (PCA3) and TMPRSS2 erg).

This Australian study is the largest published experience of the use of Ga68 PSMA PET/CT imaging in the context of previous primary radiotherapy for prostate cancer. 

This study evaluated 276 men who had undergone a Ga68 PSMA PET/CT for which the majority had PSA biochemical failure (mean PSA 3.60 ng/mL, range 0.01–83 ng/mL). Overall, 86% (239/276) men had positive scans with morethan half having evidence of local disease recurrence. Clearly, there are some limitations given that in the relatively small number of 33 men who underwent a prostate biopsy, only 28 men (85%) were confirmed to histological recurrence. Lymph node metastases were identified in 122 men (44%) of which 49 men had positive lymph nodes that were located outside the template for an extended pelvic lymph node dissection. Bone metastases were documented in 50 men.
Androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) is standard treatment for advanced and metastatic prostate cancer. While it is very effective for cancer control, it has many side effects. Commonly known side effects include loss of libido, fatigue, osteoporosis, and hot flashes. Additionally, ADT has metabolic side effects. Imagine a young athlete using steroids to have a competitive advantage. They gain muscle mass and lose fat. Now imagine the same man 50 years later undergoing ADT for his prostate cancer – it will have the exact opposite effects – gain of fat mass and loss of muscle mass.

These changes are coupled with a ~40% increased relative risk of diabetes. While exercise can help preserve muscle mass, to date, no treatment has been shown to prevent this metabolic sequela. Given one of the fundamental problems from ADT is problems with controlling sugar, what if people simply didn’t eat sugar?

There is tremendous growth in interest in the ketogenic diet, an extreme form on a low carbohydrate (i.e. sugar) diet. Proponents often tout it as the cure-all for diabetes, obesity, and possibly even cancer. Opponents argue that it is not sustainable, is bad for the environment, and it simply can’t be healthy to eat all that fat. Where

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