Treatments for localized prostate cancer: Systematic review to update the 2002 U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation [Internet] - Abstract

Screening with prostate-specific antigen testing can detect prostate cancer in earlier, asymptomatic stages, when treatments might be more effective.


However, treatments for prostate cancer are also associated with potential harms.

To systematically review benefits and harms associated with treatments for screen-detected or localized prostate cancer.

We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials and Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (through the second quarter of 2011), and Ovid MEDLINE (2002 to July 2011) for relevant studies and systematic reviews published in English. Electronic database searches were supplemented by reviews of reference lists of relevant articles.

We selected randomized trials and cohort studies that reported all-cause mortality, prostate cancer-specific mortality, or harms associated with prostatectomy, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy, cryotherapy, and high-intensity focused ultrasonography versus watchful waiting or active surveillance in men with localized prostate cancer. We also included large (n>1,000) uncontrolled observational studies that reported perioperative harms. If no randomized trials, cohort studies, or large uncontrolled studies were available, we included smaller uncontrolled studies.

One investigator abstracted data and a second investigator checked data abstraction for accuracy. Two investigators independently assessed study quality using methods developed by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

Two randomized trials and nine cohort studies on benefits of prostate cancer treatments and two randomized trials, 14 cohort studies, and 11 intervention series of harms were included in the review. One good-quality randomized trial found that prostatectomy for localized (primarily stage T2) prostate cancer was associated with decreased risk of prostate cancer-specific mortality compared with watchful waiting through 13 years of followup (relative risk, 0.62 [95% CI, 0.44–0.87]; absolute risk reduction, 6.1 percentage points); subgroup analyses suggested that benefits were limited to men younger than age 65 years. Cohort studies consistently found that prostatectomy and radiation therapy were associated with decreased risk of all-cause mortality and prostate cancer-specific mortality compared with watchful waiting, but estimates were susceptible to residual confounding. Based primarily on cohort studies, treating approximately three men with prostatectomy, seven men with radiation therapy, or two to three men with androgen deprivation therapy instead of watchful waiting would each result in one additional case of erectile dysfunction, and treating approximately five men with prostatectomy would result in one additional case of urinary incontinence. Prostatectomy was associated with perioperative (30-day) mortality (about 0.5%) and cardiovascular events (0.6% to 3%), radiation therapy with bowel dysfunction, and androgen deprivation therapy with gynecomastia and hot flashes. Evidence did not suggest adverse effects related to general health-related quality of life with either prostatectomy or radiation therapy compared with watchful waiting. Evidence on cryotherapy and high-intensity focused ultrasonography was too limited to reliably estimate benefits or harms.

Only English-language articles were included, few randomized trials met inclusion criteria, the lone randomized trial of treatment did not specifically enroll men with screen-detected prostate cancer, and few studies evaluated newer therapies and techniques.

Additional research is needed to understand benefits of treatments for screen-detected, localized prostate cancer. Commonly selected therapies for localized prostate cancer are associated with an increased risk of important harms. More research is needed to understand whether newer therapies and techniques for treating localized prostate cancer are associated with fewer harms.

Written by:
Chou R, Dana T, Bougatsos C, Fu R, Blazina I, Gleitsmann K, Rugge JB.   Are you the author?

Reference: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US); 2011 Oct. Report No.: 12-05161-EF-1.

PubMed Abstract
PMID: 22171386 Prostate Cancer Section