Many men with clinically localized prostate cancer are being monitored as part of active surveillance (AS) programs, but little is known about reasons for receiving radical treatment.
A systematic review of the evidence about AS was undertaken, with a meta-analysis to identify predictors of radical treatment.
A comprehensive search of the Embase, MEDLINE and Web of Knowledge databases to March 2014 was performed. Studies reporting on men with localized prostate cancer followed by AS or monitoring were included. AS was defined where objective eligibility criteria, management strategies, and triggers for clinical review or radical treatment were reported.
The 26 AS cohorts included 7627 men, with a median follow-up of 3.5 yr (range of medians 1.5–7.5 yr). The cohorts had a wide range of inclusion criteria, monitoring protocols, and triggers for radical treatment. There were eight prostate cancer deaths and five cases of metastases in 24 981 person-years of follow-up. Each year, 8.8% of men (95% confidence interval 6.7–11.0%) received radical treatment, most commonly because of biopsy findings, prostate-specific antigen triggers, or patient choice driven by anxiety. Studies in which most men changed treatment were those including only low-risk Gleason score 6 disease and scheduled rebiopsies.
The wide variety of AS protocols and lack of robust evidence make firm conclusions difficult. Currently, patients and clinicians have to make judgments about the balance of risks and benefits in AS protocols. The publication of robust evidence from randomized trials and longer-term follow-up of cohorts is urgently required.
We reviewed 26 studies of men on active surveillance for prostate cancer. There was evidence that studies including men with the lowest risk disease and scheduled rebiopsy had higher rates of radical treatment.