Critical Review of Prostate Cancer Predictive Tools

Future Oncol. 2009 Dec;5(10):1555-84. doi: 10.2217/fon.09.121.


Prostate cancer is a very complex disease, and the decision-making process requires the clinician to balance clinical benefits, life expectancy, comorbidities and potential treatment-related side effects. Accurate prediction of clinical outcomes may help in the difficult process of making decisions related to prostate cancer. In this review, we discuss attributes of predictive tools and systematically review those available for prostate cancer. Types of tools include probability formulas, look-up and propensity scoring tables, risk-class stratification prediction tools, classification and regression tree analysis, nomograms and artificial neural networks. Criteria to evaluate tools include discrimination, calibration, generalizability, level of complexity, decision analysis and ability to account for competing risks and conditional probabilities. The available predictive tools and their features, with a focus on nomograms, are described. While some tools are well-calibrated, few have been externally validated or directly compared with other tools. In addition, the clinical consequences of applying predictive tools need thorough assessment. Nevertheless, predictive tools can facilitate medical decision-making by showing patients tailored predictions of their outcomes with various alternatives. Additionally, accurate tools may improve clinical trial design.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Male
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / classification*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Risk Assessment / methods