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Cover of Development, validation and evaluation of an instrument for active monitoring of men with clinically localised prostate cancer: systematic review, cohort studies and qualitative study

Development, validation and evaluation of an instrument for active monitoring of men with clinically localised prostate cancer: systematic review, cohort studies and qualitative study

Health Services and Delivery Research, No. 3.30

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Southampton (UK): NIHR Journals Library; .


The study developed an evidence-based risk model for active monitoring of prostate cancer that could be presented graphically on a computer screen. We found this was potentially helpful but further comparison with other monitoring strategies is needed.



Active surveillance [(AS), sometimes called active monitoring (AM)],is a National Institute for Health and Care Excellence-recommended management option for men with clinically localised prostate cancer (PCa). It aims to target radical treatment only to those who would benefit most. Little consensus exists nationally or internationally about safe and effective protocols for AM/AS or triggers that indicate if or when men should move to radical treatment.


The aims of this project were to review how prostate-specific antigen (PSA) has been used in AM/AS programmes; to develop and test the validity of a new model for predicting future PSA levels; to develop an instrument, based on PSA, that would be acceptable and effective for men and clinicians to use in clinical practice; and to design a robust study to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the instrument.


A systematic review was conducted to investigate how PSA is currently used to monitor men in worldwide AM/AS studies. A model for PSA change with age was developed using Prostate testing for cancer and Treatment (ProtecT) data and validated using data from two PSA-era cohorts and two pre-PSA-era cohorts. The model was used to derive 95% PSA reference ranges (PSARRs) across ages. These reference ranges were used to predict the onset of metastases or death from PCa in one of the pre-PSA-era cohorts. PSARRs were incorporated into an active monitoring system (AMS) and demonstrated to 18 clinicians and 20 men with PCa from four NHS trusts. Qualitative interviews investigated patients’ and clinicians’ views about current AM/AS protocols and the acceptability of the AMS within current practice.


The systematic review found that the most commonly used triggers for clinical review of PCa were PSA doubling time (PSADT) < 3 years or PSA velocity (PSAv) > 1 ng/ml/year. The model for PSA change (developed using ProtecT study data) predicted PSA values in AM/AS cohorts within 2 ng/ml of observed PSA in up to 79% of men. Comparing the three PSA markers, there was no clear optimal approach to alerting men to worsening cancer. The PSARR and PSADT markers improved the model c-statistic for predicting death from PCa by 0.11 (21%) and 0.13 (25%), respectively, compared with using diagnostic information alone [PSA, age, tumour stage (T-stage)]. Interviews revealed variation in clinical practice regarding eligibility and follow-up protocols. Patients and clinicians perceive current AM/AS practice to be framed by uncertainty, ranging from uncertainty about selection of eligible AM/AS candidates to uncertainty about optimum follow-up protocols and thresholds for clinical review/radical treatment. Patients and clinicians generally responded positively to the AMS. The impact of the AMS on clinicians’ decision-making was limited by a lack of data linking AMS values to long-term outcomes and by current clinical practice, which viewed PSA measures as one of several tools guiding clinical decisions in AM/AS. Patients reported that they would look to clinicians, rather than to a tool, to direct decision-making.


The quantitative findings were severely hampered by a lack of clinical outcomes or events (such as metastases). The qualitative findings were limited through reliance on participants’ reports of practices and recollections of events rather than observations of actual interactions.


Patients and clinicians found that the instrument provided additional, potentially helpful, information but were uncertain about the current usefulness of the risk model we developed for routine management. Comparison of the model with other monitoring strategies will require clinical outcomes from ongoing AM/AS studies.


The National Institute for Health Research Health Services and Delivery Research programme.


Article history

The research reported in this issue of the journal was funded by the HS&DR programme or one of its preceding programmes as project number 09/2000/63. The contractual start date was in July 2011. The final report began editorial review in January 2014 and was accepted for publication in December 2014. The authors have been wholly responsible for all data collection, analysis and interpretation, and for writing up their work. The HS&DR editors and production house have tried to ensure the accuracy of the authors’ report and would like to thank the reviewers for their constructive comments on the final report document. However, they do not accept liability for damages or losses arising from material published in this report.

Declared competing interests of authors


Copyright © Queen’s Printer and Controller of HMSO 2015. This work was produced by Simpkin et al. under the terms of a commissioning contract issued by the Secretary of State for Health. This issue may be freely reproduced for the purposes of private research and study and extracts (or indeed, the full report) may be included in professional journals provided that suitable acknowledgement is made and the reproduction is not associated with any form of advertising. Applications for commercial reproduction should be addressed to: NIHR Journals Library, National Institute for Health Research, Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre, Alpha House, University of Southampton Science Park, Southampton SO16 7NS, UK.

Included under terms of UK Non-commercial Government License.

Bookshelf ID: NBK305583PMID: 26225409DOI: 10.3310/hsdr03300


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