|Patrick C. Walsh, MD|
In the Brady's weekly Grand Rounds conference, Dr. Walsh presented his "Confession?," a current review of the literature regarding prostate cancer treatment that indicates that patients with high-risk prostate cancer may benefit most from localized treatment. To give a little background, in the 1970's, when Dr. Walsh arrived at the Brady, the trend in oncologic surgery was to do "big operations for little cancers and little operations for big cancers." This was reinforced by Dr. Hugh Jewett and others who spent their lifetime trying to define disease states that were curable with surgery. Before the PSA era, this was men who had a B1 nodule (palpable cancer in less than 1/2 of one lobe). The impetus for the Partin Tables, was to refine the prediction of curability to optimally select the ideal surgical candidate for radical prostatectomy (RP). Given the morbidity of RP, it was reasonable only to operate on those patients where the chances of cure are high.
For the better part of the last few decades, the ideal patient to be cured by RP was the man with organ-confined, Gleason 6 prostate cancer. However recent data, which we will review below, indicate there may be a benefit of RP for men who are not cured by that surgery - men with high-risk prostate cancer (HRPC).
- First, we now know that not all men with HRPC are equal. Men can be stratified into favorable or unfavorable pathology. Men with favorable HRPC have all Gleason pattern 4 disease that is either confined to the prostate or with extraprostatic extension (pT2-pT3a) and, 15-years after RP, 60% will be free from metastatic disease and 70% will be alive. On the other hand, for men with unfavorable disease [any Gleason pattern 5, seminal vesicle invasion of lymph node metastases (pT3b or N1)], at 15-years, only 20% will be free from metastases and be alive.
- In the randomized, Scandinavian trial of RP versus watchful waiting, the greatest benefit of surgery (in reducing metastases and mortality from prostate cancer) was in the men with high-Gleason disease.
- In men with locally advanced disease, treatment with androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) and radiation therapy (RT) provides a survival benefit over ADT alone.
- Contrary to standard practice, men with positive lymph nodes who undergo removal of the prostate had a survival benefit when compared to men who only underwent a staging pelvic lymphadenectomy.[5,6]
- In a propensity score-matched analysis of men with HRPC who eventually developed metastases, men who underwent primary surgery had a better prostate cancer survival when compared to men who received primary RT.
In summary: Complete elimination of the primary lesion may improve survival in men with advanced disease even though it many not be curative. For this reason, biochemical and metastasis-free survival may underestimate the ultimate value of any primary treatment to the prostate.
This entry is extracted from a lecture given by Patrick C. Walsh, MD on January 30, 2014 at the Brady Urological Institute and Department of Urology Grand Rounds, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland.
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