Prostate cancer active surveillance and health-related quality of life: results of the Finnish arm of the prospective trial

BJU Int. 2012 Jun;109(11):1614-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-410X.2011.10677.x. Epub 2011 Nov 1.


Study Type - Therapy (case series) Level of Evidence 4 What's known on the subject? and What does the study add? Active surveillance is a management option in patients with localized prostate cancer. One concern is the possible psychological burden and quality-of-life effects caused by consciousness of living with untreated cancer. Previous studies have reported controversial results about the impact of active surveillance on patient's health-related quality of life. The data of the present study support the idea that patients with low-risk prostate cancer manage well on active surveillance and do not develop short-term mental or physical quality-of-life sequelae.

Objective: To analyse longitudinal changes in general, mental and physical health-related quality of life (HRQL) and urinary and erectile function in patients with low-risk prostate cancer (PC) on active surveillance (AS).

Patients and methods: Patients comprised those (n= 124) enrolled in the Finnish arm of the Prostate Cancer Research International: Active Surveillance (PRIAS) study who were followed for at least 1 year (n= 80). All patients with PC received validated questionnaires at the start of surveillance and after 1 year of follow-up. General HRQL was assessed with the RAND 36-Item Health Survey (RAND-36), erectile function with the International Index of Erectile Function-5 (IIEF-5), and urinary symptoms with the International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS) questionnaires. Results were also compared with an age-stratified general Finnish male population. A paired t-test served to compare results over time and a non-paired t-test or a corresponding non-parametric test, when applicable, served to compare the study group with the general population. Pearson and Spearman correlations were analysed between possible HRQL-affecting factors (demographic and clinical data) and HRQL data, followed by linear regression analysis to further evaluate any possible associations.

Results: Of the 124 patients, 105 (85%) returned the baseline RAND-36 questionnaire, and 75 (94%) of the 80 patients answered both the baseline and follow-up questionnaires; 15 patients (12%) had discontinued AS, all for protocol-based reasons, none due to anxiety or distress. No differences existed in the HRQL main categories at the 1-year follow-up (mental and physical: P= 0.142 and P= 0.154, respectively). When all the eight dimensions were analysed separately, the physical role showed statistically significant improvement from a mean of 81 to a mean of 89 (P= 0.010). No clinically significant correlations appeared between HRQL and age, diagnostic prostate-specific antigen (PSA), free PSA or PSA change during follow-up at any of the time points; in regression analysis, HRQL was not predictable by any of the variables available at diagnosis or during follow-up. No statistically significant changes occurred in urinary function as analysed by the IPSS (P= 0.121) or in erectile function by the IIEF-5 questionnaire (P= 0.583). Compared with an age-stratified Finnish general male population, patients with PC on AS had a significantly better general mental and physical HRQL at diagnosis and after 1 year of follow-up (P < 0.05).

Conclusions: Active surveillance does not provoke short-term quality-of-life disturbances as assessed by standardized RAND-36, IIEF-5 and IPSS questionnaires. None of the patients changed treatment due to anxiety. Unexpectedly, PC patients on AS had significantly better general mental and physical HRQL than did a general age-stratified Finnish male population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Finland
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Middle Aged
  • Population Surveillance*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / complications
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Quality of Life*