Background: There is wide variation in prostate cancer incidence and survival across Europe. In many countries incidence is rising sharply in relation to the introduction of prostate-specific antigen assay, and there is concern that patients may not be treated appropriately. We therefore aimed to characterize treatment for prostate cancer across Europe.
Methods: We performed a high resolution population-based study, collecting information on the treatment of 3 486 prostate cancer cases diagnosed in 1995-1999 in 11 cancer registries from six European countries.
Results: Overall, about one in three patients received radical treatment (prostatectomy 23% or radiotherapy 14%); about 60% of younger patients (<70 years) received radical treatment, while a similar proportion of older patients (> or =70 years) received palliation (transurethral prostatectomy or hormone treatment only). A considerable proportion (61%) of patients with apparently high-risk disease were treated radically within a year of diagnosis, with large variation between regions: >70% in Calvados, Haut-Rhin, Tarn and Eindhoven and <50% in Slovakia and Cracow. Overall 34% of patients with apparently low-risk disease received radical treatment, varying from 17% and 22% in Bas-Rhin and Granada, to 52% and 56% in Calvados and Eindhoven.
Conclusions: Our data indicate wide variation in the treatment for prostate cancer even among patients with apparently similar disease, and further suggest a non-negligible proportion may be receiving inappropriate radical treatment for apparently low-risk disease. Current guidelines indicate active surveillance should become the main means of managing low-risk disease.