Background: Prospective evidence supports active surveillance/watchful waiting (AS/WW) as an efficacious management option for low-risk prostate cancer that avoids potential treatment toxicity. AS/WW schedules require regular follow-up and adherence, and it is unknown to what extent patient socioeconomic status (SES) may impact management decisions for AS/WW. We sought to determine whether AS/WW use in the United States differs according to patient SES.
Design: Using the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Prostate with AS/WW Database, all adult men diagnosed with localized low-risk prostate cancer (clinical T1-T2a, Gleason 6, and prostate-specific antigen <10 ng/mL) and managed with either AS/WW, radical prostatectomy, or radiotherapy were identified between 2010 and 2015. SES tertile was measured by the validated Yost Index (low: 0-10,901; middle: 10,904-11,469; high: 11,470-11,827). AS/WW trends were defined across SES tertiles from 2010 to 2015. Logistic multivariable regression defined adjusted odds ratios (aOR) for receipt of AS/WW by SES tertile.
Results: In 50,302 men, AS/WW use was higher with increasing SES tertile (24.6, 25.3, and 30.5% for low, middle, and high SES tertiles, respectively; PTrend (SES) <0.001). From 2010 to 2015, AS/WW use in the low, middle, and high SES tertiles increased from 11.2 to 37.3%, 14.1 to 45.8%, and 17.6 to 46.4%, respectively (PTrends <0.001). By 2015, likelihood of AS/WW became comparable among the middle vs. high SES tertiles (aOR 0.96, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.83-1.11, P = 0.55), but remained lower among the low vs. high SES tertile (aOR 0.73, 95% CI: 0.64-0.83, P < 0.001).
Conclusions: AS/WW use for low-risk prostate cancer in the US differs by SES. Despite increases in AS/WW across SES from 2010 to 2015, patients from low SES received significantly lower rates of AS/WW compared with higher SES groups. SES may therefore influence management decisions, where factors associated with low SES might act as a barrier to AS/WW, and may need to be addressed to reduce any disproportionate risk of unnecessary treatment to lower SES patients.