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Active surveillance in Canadian men with low-grade prostate cancer [Research]

Background:

Recent guidelines recommend against routine screening for prostate cancer, partly because of the risks associated with overtreatment of clinically indolent tumours. We aimed to determine the proportion of patients whose low-grade prostate cancer was managed by active surveillance instead of immediate treatment.

Methods:

We reviewed data for patients who were referred to the Ottawa regional Prostate Cancer Assessment Clinic with abnormal results for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) or prostate examination between Apr. 1, 2008, and Jan. 31, 2013. Patients with subsequent biopsy-proven low-grade (Gleason score 6) cancer were included. Active surveillance was defined a priori as monitoring by means of PSA, digital rectal examination and repeat biopsies, with the potential for curative-intent treatment in the event of disease progression.

Results:

Of 477 patients with low-grade cancer, active surveillance was used for 210 (44.0%), and the annual proportion increased from 32% (11/34) in 2008 to 67% (20/30) in 2013. Factors associated with immediate treatment were palpable tumour, PSA density above 0.2 ng/mL2 and more than 2 positive biopsy cores. Factors associated with surveillance were age over 70 years and higher Charlson comorbidity index. Of 173 men who received immediate surgical treatment, 103 (59.5%) had higher-grade or advanced-stage disease on final pathologic examination. Of the 210 men with active surveillance, 62 (29.5%) received treatment within a median of 1.3 years, most commonly (52 [84%]) because of upgrading of disease on the basis of surveillance biopsy.

Interpretation:

Active surveillance has become the most common management strategy for men with low-grade prostate cancer at our regional diagnostic centre. Factors associated with immediate treatment reflected those that increase the risk of higher-grade tumours.

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