Contemporary use of initial active surveillance among men in Michigan with low-risk prostate cancer

Eur Urol. 2015 Jan;67(1):44-50. doi: 10.1016/j.eururo.2014.08.024. Epub 2014 Aug 24.


Background: Active surveillance (AS) has been proposed as an effective strategy to reduce overtreatment among men with lower risk prostate cancers. However, historical rates of initial surveillance are low (4-20%), and little is known about its application among community-based urology practices.

Objective: To describe contemporary utilization of AS among a population-based sample of men with low-risk prostate cancer.

Design, setting, and participants: We performed a prospective cohort study of men with low-risk prostate cancer managed by urologists participating in the Michigan Urological Surgery Improvement Collaborative (MUSIC).

Outcome measurements and statistical analysis: The principal outcome was receipt of AS as initial management for low-risk prostate cancer including the frequency of follow-up prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing, prostate biopsy, and local therapy. We examined variation in the use of surveillance according to patient characteristics and across MUSIC practices. Finally, we used claims data to validate treatment classification in the MUSIC registry.

Results and limitations: We identified 682 low-risk patients from 17 MUSIC practices. Overall, 49% of men underwent initial AS. Use of initial surveillance varied widely across practices (27-80%; p=0.005), even after accounting for differences in patient characteristics. Among men undergoing initial surveillance with at least 12 mo of follow-up, PSA testing was common (85%), whereas repeat biopsy was performed in only one-third of patients. There was excellent agreement between treatment assignments in the MUSIC registry and claims data (κ=0.93). Limitations include unknown treatment for 8% of men with low-risk cancer.

Conclusions: Half of men in Michigan with low-risk prostate cancer receive initial AS. Because this proportion is much higher than reported previously, our findings suggest growing acceptance of this strategy for reducing overtreatment.

Patient summary: We examined the use of initial active surveillance for the management of men with low-risk prostate cancer across the state of Michigan. We found that initial surveillance is used much more commonly than previously reported, but the likelihood of a patient being placed on surveillance depends strongly on where he is treated.

Keywords: Active surveillance; Low-risk prostate cancer; Quality improvement collaborative.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biopsy / statistics & numerical data
  • Community Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Michigan
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Prostate / pathology
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / blood*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / blood
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Registries
  • Risk Assessment
  • Urology / statistics & numerical data*
  • Watchful Waiting / statistics & numerical data*


  • Prostate-Specific Antigen