Prostate cancer survivors who would be eligible for active surveillance but were either treated with radiotherapy or managed expectantly: comparisons on long-term quality of life and symptom burden


Melissa Thong, Comprehensive Cancer Centre South, PO Box 231, 5600 AE, Eindhoven, the Netherlands.


Study Type – Therapy (outcomes research)
Level of Evidence 2c


To assess and identify factors associated with the long-term health-related quality of life (HRQL) of prostate cancer survivors managed expectantly, as patients with low-risk prostate cancer can be managed with active surveillance (AS), but research on associated long-term HRQL is scarce.


From the population-based Eindhoven Cancer Registry, 71 men managed with AS were matched with 71 survivors who had similar demographic and clinical characteristics but treated with external beam radiotherapy (RT). All were diagnosed between 1994 and 1998. HRQL data were collected 5–10 years after diagnosis. Patients completed generic- (Short Form-36) and cancer-specific (Quality of Life – Cancer Survivors) HRQL instruments, and symptom burden (Expanded Prostate Cancer Index, Sexual Activity) questionnaires.


Patients on AS were comparable to those treated with RT for most generic- and disease-specific HRQL dimensions. Patients treated with RT had poorer mean (sd) bowel function scores, of 87.1 (13.1) vs 92.8 (10.7) (P < 0.001), more bother with bowel function, at 85.0 (16.4) vs 93.7 (10.1) (P < 0.001), and more problems with getting an erection (68% vs 47%, P = 0.005). Multivariate regression analyses (corrected for comorbidity and clinical disease progression) indicated that the management strategy independently predicted differences in physical functioning, bodily pain, spiritual and total well-being, and bowel function and bowel bother.


Patients managed expectantly at initial diagnosis (AS) have comparable HRQL and a lower symptom burden than patients treated with RT up to 10 years after the diagnosis.