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Curr Opin Urol. 2019 Nov;29(6):605-611. doi: 10.1097/MOU.0000000000000671.

Active surveillance for intermediate-risk prostate cancer: yes, but for whom?

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Department of Urology.
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California, San Francisco, UCSF - Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, San Francisco, California, USA.
Department of Urology, Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich, Munich, Germany.



Active surveillance is becoming more widely accepted as an initial management option for carefully selected men with favorable intermediate-risk prostate cancer (PCa). As prospective active surveillance cohorts mature sufficiently to begin evaluating longer-term outcomes, consensus on more precise evidence-based guidelines is needed to identify the patient cohorts who may be safely managed with active surveillance and what the ideal surveillance protocol entails.


Long-term outcomes updates have suggested a trend toward worse 15-year survival outcomes for intermediate-risk patients on active surveillance compared with definitive treatment, but 'intermediate-risk' is a broad category and there is a subset of favorable intermediate-risk patients for whom survival outcomes remain equivalent. Promising updates to current risk stratification include consideration of genomic classifiers, advanced imaging and more nuanced interpretation of biopsy results.


Despite widespread acknowledgement of the pitfalls of overtreatment in clinically localized PCa, utilization of active surveillance in the intermediate-risk population remains marginal, in part due to the absence of easily interpretable consensus recommendations. As more long-term outcomes data become available for this subgroup, the field is now poised to refine the definition of favorable intermediate-risk patients for whom active surveillance is a safe, evidence-based first-line management option.

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