Prognostic and predictive factors in prostate cancer
Prostate cancer is a major public health problem in the Western world, and the second most common male malignancies in the European Union. Detection of the disease is possible at an early stage, using serum prostate specific antigen measurement and prostatic biopsies. To date, however, screening for prostate cancer has not been shown to be of benefit to patients in improving outcome. This is compounded by uncertainties surrounding treatment efficacy, as more men appear to die with prostate cancer than from it. Studies addressing these issues are underway in Europe and the U.S.A. Clinicians are currently unable to advise their patients with any degree of certainty as to the appropriateness of treatment for prostate cancer, because of their inability to differentiate tumours that will progress from those that will remain quiescent. This article reviews the various clinical, pathological and experimental markers available, and their value in providing prognostic information, which may assist clinicians and patients in making management decisions. Further research is still required to understand the biological behaviour of prostate cancer and to assess the value of screening and treatment efficacy in order to advise patients, clinicians and health care systems accordingly. © 2001 Harcourt Publishers Ltd.