From the Journals

Watchful waiting up for low-risk prostate cancer



Conservative management for low-risk localized prostate cancer is up recently, in line with clinical practice guideline changes, while in high-risk disease, use of radical prostatectomy has increased despite a lack of new high-level evidence supporting the approach, according to researchers.

Active surveillance or watchful waiting surpassed both radical prostatectomy and radiotherapy to become the most common management strategy in low-risk disease over the 2010-2015 time period, according to their analysis of a Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database.

Meanwhile, radical prostatectomy use declined in low-risk patients, but increased in those with higher-risk disease at the expense of radiotherapy, said authors of the analysis, led by Brandon A. Mahal, MD, and Paul L. Nguyen, MD, of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston.

“Although increasing use of active surveillance or watchful waiting for low-risk disease has been supported by high-level evidence and guidelines since 2010, shifting management patterns toward more radical prostatectomy in higher-risk disease and away from radiotherapy does not coincide with any new level 1 evidence or guideline changes,” Dr. Mahal, Dr. Nguyen, and coauthors said in JAMA.

The analysis included 164,760 men with a diagnosis of localized prostate cancer between 2010 and 2015 in the SEER Prostate Active Surveillance/Watchful Waiting database. Of that group, 12.7% were managed by active surveillance or watchful waiting, while 41.5% underwent radiotherapy and 45.8% had a radical prostatectomy.

For men with low-risk disease, active surveillance or watchful waiting increased from just 14.5% in 2010 to 42.1% in 2015, investigators found. Radical prostatectomy decreased from 47.4% to 31.3% over that 5-year period, while radiotherapy likewise decreased from 38.0% to 26.6% (P less than .001 for all three trends).

By contrast, in men with high-risk disease, use of radical prostatectomy increased from 38.0% to 42.8%, while radiotherapy decreased from 60.1% to 55.0% (P less than .001 for both trends), and use of active surveillance remained low and steady at 1.9% in 2010 to 2.2% in 2015.

Intermediate-risk disease saw a significant increase in active surveillance, from 5.8% to 9.6% over the time period, with commensurate decreases in both radical prostatectomy and radiotherapy, according to the report.

While low-risk prostate cancer was traditionally managed with radical prostatectomy, national clinical practice guidelines starting in 2010 began recommending conservative management with active surveillance or watchful waiting, researchers noted in their report.

These epidemiologic data don’t provide any insights on clinical outcomes related to the management changes, investigators acknowledged. They said further study is needed to determine the “downstream effects” of increased active surveillance or watchful waiting in low-risk prostate cancer.

Dr. Mahal reported no conflicts of interest, while Dr. Nguyen provided disclosures related to Ferring, Augmenix, Bayer, Janssen, Astellas, Dendreon, Genome DX, Blue Earth Diagnostics, Cota, Nanobiotix, Janssen, and Astellas. Coauthors had disclosures relate to Janssen, Blue Earth, and the National Institutes of Health.

SOURCE: Mahal BA et al. JAMA. 2019 Feb 11. doi: 10.1001/jama.2018.19941.

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