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J Clin Oncol. 2005 Sep 1;23(25):6139-48.

Is prostate-specific antigen a valid surrogate end point for survival in hormonally treated patients with metastatic prostate cancer? Joint research of the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer, the Limburgs Universitair Centrum, and AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals.

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  • 1European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Data Center, Avenue Emmanuel Mounier 83/11, B-1200 Brussels, Belgium.



The long duration of phase III clinical trials of overall survival (OS) slows down the treatment-development process. It could be shortened by using surrogate end points. Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is the most studied biomarker in prostate cancer (PCa). This study attempts to validate PSA end points as surrogates for OS in advanced PCa.


Individual data from 2,161 advanced PCa patients treated in studies comparing bicalutamide to castration were used in a meta-analytic approach to surrogate end-point validation. PSA response, PSA normalization, time to PSA progression, and longitudinal PSA measurements were considered.


The known association between PSA and OS at the individual patient level was confirmed. The association between the effect of intervention on any PSA end point and on OS was generally low (determination coefficient, < 0.69).


It is a common misconception that high correlation between biomarkers and true end point justify the use of the former as surrogates. To statistically validate surrogate end points, a high correlation between the treatment effects on the surrogate and true end point needs to be established across groups of patients treated with two alternative interventions. The levels of association observed in this study indicate that the effect of hormonal treatment on OS cannot be predicted with a high degree of precision from observed treatment effects on PSA end points, and thus statistical validity is unproven. In practice, non-null treatment effects on OS can be predicted only from precisely estimated large effects on time to PSA progression (TTPP; hazard ratio, < 0.50).

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