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BACKGROUND: Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the UK. Prostate-specific antigen testing followed by biopsy leads to overdetection, overtreatment as well as undertreatment of the disease. Evidence of treatment effectiveness has lacked because of the paucity of randomised controlled trials comparing conventional treatments. OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the effectiveness of conventional treatments for localised prostate cancer (active monitoring, radical prostatectomy and radical radiotherapy) in men aged 50-69 years. DESIGN: A prospective, multicentre prostate-specific antigen testing programme followed by a randomised trial of treatment, with a comprehensive cohort follow-up. SETTING: Prostate-specific antigen testing in primary care and treatment in nine urology departments in the UK. PARTICIPANTS: Between 2001 and 2009, 228,966 men aged 50-69 years received an invitation to attend an appointment for information about the Prostate testing for cancer and Treatment (ProtecT) study and a prostate-specific antigen test; 82,429 men were tested, 2664 were diagnosed with localised prostate cancer, 1643 agreed to randomisation to active monitoring (n = 545), radical prostatectomy (n = 553) or radical radiotherapy (n = 545) and 997 chose a treatment. INTERVENTIONS: The interventions were active monitoring, radical prostatectomy and radical radiotherapy. TRIAL PRIMARY OUTCOME MEASURE: Definite or probable disease-specific mortality at the 10-year median follow-up in randomised participants. SECONDARY OUTCOME MEASURES: Overall mortality, metastases, disease progression, treatment complications, resource utilisation and patient-reported outcomes. RESULTS: There were no statistically significant differences between the groups for 17 prostate cancer-specific (p = 0.48) and 169 all-cause (p = 0.87) deaths. Eight men died of prostate cancer in the active monitoring group (1.5 per 1000 person-years, 95% confidence interval 0.7 to 3.0); five died of prostate cancer in the radical prostatectomy group (0.9 per 1000 person-years, 95% confidence interval 0.4 to 2.2 per 1000 person years) and four died of prostate cancer in the radical radiotherapy group (0.7 per 1000 person-years, 95% confidence interval 0.3 to 2.0 per 1000 person years). More men developed metastases in the active monitoring group than in the radical prostatectomy and radical radiotherapy groups: active monitoring, n = 33 (6.3 per 1000 person-years, 95% confidence interval 4.5 to 8.8); radical prostatectomy, n = 13 (2.4 per 1000 person-years, 95% confidence interval 1.4 to 4.2 per 1000 person years); and radical radiotherapy, n = 16 (3.0 per 1000 person-years, 95% confidence interval 1.9 to 4.9 per 1000 person-years; p = 0.004). There were higher rates of disease progression in the active monitoring group than in the radical prostatectomy and radical radiotherapy groups: active monitoring (n = 112; 22.9 per 1000 person-years, 95% confidence interval 19.0 to 27.5 per 1000 person years); radical prostatectomy (n = 46; 8.9 per 1000 person-years, 95% confidence interval 6.7 to 11.9 per 1000 person-years); and radical radiotherapy (n = 46; 9.0 per 1000 person-years, 95% confidence interval 6.7 to 12.0 per 1000 person years; p < 0.001). Radical prostatectomy had the greatest impact on sexual function/urinary continence and remained worse than radical radiotherapy and active monitoring. Radical radiotherapy's impact on sexual function was greatest at 6 months, but recovered somewhat in the majority of participants. Sexual and urinary function gradually declined in the active monitoring group. Bowel function was worse with radical radiotherapy at 6 months, but it recovered with the exception of bloody stools. Urinary voiding and nocturia worsened in the radical radiotherapy group at 6 months but recovered. Condition-specific quality-of-life effects mirrored functional changes. No differences in anxiety/depression or generic or cancer-related quality of life were found. At the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence threshold of £20,000 per quality-adjusted life-year, the probabilities that each arm was the most cost-effective option were 58% (radical radiotherapy), 32% (active monitoring) and 10% (radical prostatectomy). LIMITATIONS: A single prostate-specific antigen test and transrectal ultrasound biopsies were used. There were very few non-white men in the trial. The majority of men had low- and intermediate-risk disease. Longer follow-up is needed. CONCLUSIONS: At a median follow-up point of 10 years, prostate cancer-specific mortality was low, irrespective of the assigned treatment. Radical prostatectomy and radical radiotherapy reduced disease progression and metastases, but with side effects. Further work is needed to follow up participants at a median of 15 years. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN20141297. FUNDING: This project was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment programme and will be published in full in Health Technology Assessment; Vol. 24, No. 37. See the National Institute for Health Research Journals Library website for further project information.

Original publication

DOI

10.3310/hta24370

Type

Journal article

Journal

Health Technol Assess

Publication Date

08/2020

Volume

24

Pages

1 - 176

Keywords

ACTIVE MONITORING, PROSTATE CANCER, PROSTATE-SPECIFIC ANTIGEN TESTING, QUALITY OF LIFE, RADICAL PROSTATECTOMY, RADICAL RADIOTHERAPY, RADICAL TREATMENT, RANDOMISED CLINICAL TRIAL