• Prostate cancer;
  • age;
  • Gleason score;
  • serum PSA;
  • external beam radiation;
  • hormonal therapy

Objective To assess the clinical behaviour of clinically localized prostate cancer in elderly patients monitored until progression, and the impact of clinical variables, i.e. clinical stage, Gleason score, the dynamics of prostate specific antigen (PSA) and age, on the natural history of the disease.

Patients and methods Between February 1991 and January 1998, 54 patients (mean age 76.4 years, median 77 at the time of diagnosis) with clinically localized prostate cancer who elected for watchful waiting were identified. They were monitored regularly and treatment deferred until progression. Progression was defined as local stage progression (as assessed on a digital rectal examination), biochemical progression or metastasis. All patients who progressed were offered either radiation therapy or hormonal treatment. Each clinical variable was assessed by univariate and multivariate analysis to predict disease progression. The mean follow-up was 47 months.

Results Of the 54 patients, 28 (52%) progressed; 10 had biochemical, 11 local and four biochemical and local progression, and three developed metastasis. All the patients who progressed elected to receive hormonal treatment. The mean time to progression was 35 months. Gleason score (leqslant R: less-than-or-eq, slant 6 and > 6), age (leqslant R: less-than-or-eq, slant 75 and > 75 years) and serum PSA level (leqslant R: less-than-or-eq, slant 10 and > 10 ng/mL) were statistically significant predictors of disease progression (P = 0.04, < 0.001 and 0.02, respectively). The clinical stage at the time of diagnosis had a borderline effect on disease progression (P = 0.06). On multivariate analysis, Gleason score and PSA level were statistically significant predictors of disease progression.

Conclusion These results suggest that the treatment of prostate cancer should not be deferred in patients aged > 75 years with a good performance status when the biopsy has a Gleason score geqslant R: gt-or-equal, slanted 6 and the serum PSA level is geqslant R: gt-or-equal, slanted 10 ng/mL.