Metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer: dawn of a new age of management


Amit Bahl, Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre, Horfield Road, Bristol BS2 8ED, UK. e-mail:


What's known on the subject? and What does the study add?

Metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) was historically considered to be an aggressive disease resistant to conventional anticancer therapy. Within the last decade the outlook has changed beyond recognition; docetaxel chemotherapy is now firmly established as a well-tolerated treatment with significant survival benefits. Building on this, more recently there have been several landmark developments using various approaches in patients whose disease has progressed despite previous chemotherapy. Cabazitaxel chemotherapy offers survival and health-related quality of life (HRQL) improvements in this setting, as does the CYP inhibitor abiraterone acetate. Significant clinical benefits are also seen with novel radioisotope and immunotherapeutic approaches.

There have been many developments in the management of this condition within the last 2 years, with several landmark studies showing new treatments that offer survival and HRQL benefits even in the setting of advanced disease, which has been heavily pretreated. This review article summarises these important developments and gives the reader an overview of current practice, recent changes and future directions.

  • • With current and forthcoming developments in the treatment of metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) post-docetaxel, we are embarking on an age of potential ‘chronic’ management of this disease.
  • • It is hoped that the survival benefits associated with the various treatments, cytotoxic, hormonal and immunotherapeutic, will prove to be additive, providing a multimodal continuum of care. If so, it will be necessary to determine the optimal sequence and timing of the new treatments.
  • • One key factor in this regard is likely to be the patient's performance status and hence his eligibility for cytotoxic intervention. If chemotherapy is offered early in the post-docetaxel pathway, the patient may still be able to benefit from non-chemotherapeutic options subsequently. However, if this stage of management begins with a non-chemotherapeutic option, there is a risk that the patient's performance status will decline before he has an opportunity to benefit from chemotherapy.
  • • Further studies and ongoing clinical experience are likely to clarify this important issue, and help clinicians to maximise the survival of men with mCRPC post-docetaxel.