From the Journals

Patient-reported outcomes highlight long-term impacts of prostatectomy



For men with prostate cancer, prostatectomy is more likely to cause long-term, clinically meaningful incontinence than are other treatment modalities, based on patient-reported outcomes from more than 2,000 men.

Patients with high-risk disease who underwent prostatectomy also reported worse sexual function at every time point over 5 years, reported Karen E. Hoffman, MD, of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues. Other functional differences between treatments faded over time, they said.

“These estimates of the long-term bowel, bladder, and sexual function after localized prostate cancer treatment may clarify expectations and enable men to make informed choices about care,” the investigators wrote. Their report is in JAMA.

The prospective, population-based cohort study involved 1,386 men with favorable-risk prostate cancer and 619 men with unfavorable-risk disease. For men with favorable-risk disease, treatments included low-dose brachytherapy, external beam radiation therapy (EBRT), nerve-sparing prostatectomy, and active surveillance. Men with unfavorable-risk disease were treated with either prostatectomy or EBRT plus androgen deprivation therapy (ADT).

At multiple time points for 5 years, patients completed the 26-item Expanded Prostate Index Composite questionnaire (EPIC; range, 0-100). Clinically significant functional differences between treatment modalities were defined for bowel and hormonal function (4-6), urinary irritative symptoms (5-7), urinary incontinence (6-9), and sexual function (10-12). All 2,005 men completed at least one questionnaire, with about 3 out of 4 men (77%) still responding after 5 years.

Across all patients, prostatectomy was associated with a relatively higher risk of long-term, clinically meaningful urinary incontinence.

For men with favorable-risk disease, the adjusted mean difference for incontinence between nerve-sparing prostatectomy and active surveillance was –10.9 (P less than .001). Patients in this group who elected prostatectomy over active surveillance had a higher rate of urinary leakage (10% vs. 7%; P = .04); however, there was no significant difference in rates of moderate or big problems with urinary function, which suggests that incontinence issues were typically mild.

For men with unfavorable risk disease, prostatectomy carried a higher risk of more severe incontinence. The adjusted mean difference between prostatectomy and EBRT plus ADT was –23.2 (P less than .001), and patients treated with prostatectomy were more likely to report moderate or big problems with urinary function (17% vs. 13%; P = .005). In addition to these urinary issues, men with unfavorable-risk disease who underwent prostatectomy were more likely to report worse sexual function at 5 years, compared with those who were treated with EBRT plus ADT (adjusted mean difference, –12.5).

While other clinically meaningful differences were found between treatments for other functional categories, these differences lost statistical significance by the 5-year time point.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, and the National Cancer Institute funded the study. The investigators reported additional relationships with Dendreon, Bayer, AstraZeneca, and others.

SOURCE: Hoffman et al. JAMA. 2020 Jan 14. doi: 10.1001/jama.2019.20675.

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