Background: Certain patients presenting with either low or very-low-risk prostate cancer (PCa) can represent a therapeutic dilemma for physicians. The oncologic outcomes of active surveillance (AS) for men with very-low-risk PCa are overall excellent. However, there are concerns about AS related to the potential for upgrading or upstaging. The African American (AA) population is under-represented in studies evaluating AS outcomes and this is particularly important because of the unique epidemiology of PCa in AA men.
Methods: A literature review through the Medline database published from 1990 until August 2015 was performed to identify studies reporting outcomes of the AA population with low-risk PCa that underwent either AS or treatment. An additional search for studies on genetic mechanisms involved in development of PCa in AA men was also performed.
Results: Eleven studies on pathologic results of AA men who would qualify for AS were identified and in eight of these studies AA race was found to be associated with adverse pathological outcomes such as positive surgical margins, upgrading or upstaging. The other three studies reported no significance in these parameters with respect to race. Five more studies reported outcomes of AS in AA men with different study end points. AA men were mainly found to have a higher rate of disease reclassification subsequent to active treatment. The studies on genetic mechanisms also identified different genetic alterations in the AA population.
Conclusions: AA men with clinically defined low-risk PCa may have either a higher grade or volume of cancer that was not detected on routine evaluation. Therefore, AS among such patients should be approached with caution. We recommend discussing such risks with AA patients with an acknowledgement that existing favorable outcomes noted in largely Caucasian populations may not be applicable to AA patients. We propose a modified evaluation plan for AA patients that includes an early confirmatory biopsy preceded by an magnetic resonance imaging to optimally detect occult cancer foci.