Adjuvant and neoadjuvant therapy in prostate cancer

Semin Oncol. 2001 Feb;28(1):3-12. doi: 10.1016/s0093-7754(01)90041-7.


While surgery and radiation therapy remain the only definitive treatments for prostate cancer, single modality therapy has been associated with high failure rates in patients with aggressive disease. Although hormonal therapy has been effective in cases of metastatic disease, the timing of treatment with respect to definitive therapy remains controversial. This review will explore the efficacy of hormonal and chemotherapy in both the adjuvant and neoadjuvant settings. A MEDLINE search was performed to identify pertinent articles regarding both adjuvant and neoadjuvant therapy in prostate cancer. Articles of historical relevance in addition to those using large patient numbers with a randomized design were reviewed preferentially. Since hormonal therapy has been considered standard treatment at the time of cancer progression after definitive therapy, many of the randomized trials essentially compared adjuvant therapy to delayed therapy. Historical trials using adjuvant hormonal therapy have been limited due to difficulties in clinical staging, as well as toxicities attributed to the formulations used. More recently, hormonal therapy has been found to delay disease progression, increase disease-free survival, and decrease mortality when given immediately after prostatectomy or radiation therapy in selected patients. Neoadjuvant hormonal therapy can improve disease-free survival and local control when given before radiation therapy; it has only decreased positive surgical margins when given prior to radical prostatectomy. Although hormonal therapy given immediately after either radical prostatectomy or radiation therapy is highly effective, the side effects of persistent long-term use must be weighed for each patient. While the use of chemotherapy has been limited by the lack of active agents, newer combinations have shown effectiveness in patients with hormone refractory disease, raising the possibility of their use in the adjuvant setting.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal / therapeutic use*
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Selection
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / mortality
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Rate


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal