Screening, risk assessment, and the approach to therapy in patients with prostate cancer


  • Stephen J. Freedland MD

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Surgery, Durham VA Medical Center, Duke Prostate Center, Division of Urologic Surgery, Departments of Surgery and Pathology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina
    • DUMC Box 2626, Department of Surgery, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710
    Search for more papers by this author
    • Fax: (919) 668-7093


The major challenge in prostate cancer is to identify patients at higher risk of death and to distinguish them from those more likely to die from other causes. Stratification of patients into risk groups can be used to guide management decisions at each disease stage. This review discusses the measures, tools, and nomograms available for risk assessment in prostate cancer. For patients with localized hormone-sensitive disease, the choice is between active surveillance and radical treatment, with focal therapy an emerging option. Current guidelines recommend treatment of patients with a life expectancy ≥10 years, although active surveillance is being used with increasing frequency for low-risk patients, even with a long life expectancy. A number of risk stratification methods have been devised to assess the risk of biochemical recurrence (BCR) after treatment, with prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level, Gleason score, clinical stage, and tumor mass/volume all shown to be predictive of BCR. Among men with BCR after treatment, PSA doubling time (PSADT) was the best predictor of further progression. Although studies in patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer have shown that PSA level and PSADT are associated with a risk of developing metastatic disease, there is currently no clear surrogate for disease progression or overall survival for this patient group and no standard second- or third-line therapy after progression on first-line chemotherapy. The use of newly developed risk-stratification models and markers of disease progression should assist in the earlier identification of disease progression, allowing the optimal treatment of such patients. Cancer 2011. © 2010 American Cancer Society.