Results of a randomized trial of treatment modalities in patients with low or early-intermediate risk prostate cancer (PREFERE trial)

J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 2021 Jan;147(1):235-242. doi: 10.1007/s00432-020-03327-2. Epub 2020 Sep 4.


Purpose: The optimal treatment for patients with low to early-intermediate risk prostate cancer (PCa) remains to be defined. The randomized PREFERE trial (DRKS00004405) aimed to assess noninferiority of active surveillance (AS), external-beam radiotherapy (EBRT), or brachytherapy by permanent seed implantation (PSI) vs. radical prostatectomy (RP) for these patients.

Methods: PREFERE was planned to enroll 7600 patients. The primary endpoint was disease specific survival. Patients with PCa stage ≤ cT2a, cN0/X, M0, PSA ≤ 10 ng/ml and Gleason-Score ≤ 3 + 4 at reference pathology were eligible. Patients were allowed to exclude one or two of the four modalities, which yielded eleven combinations for randomization. Sixty-nine German study centers were engaged in PREFERE.

Results: Of 2251 patients prescreened between 2012 and 2016, 459 agreed to participate in PREFERE. Due to this poor accrual, the trial was stopped. In 345 patients reference pathology confirmed inclusion criteria. Sixty-nine men were assigned to RP, 53 to EBRT, 93 to PSI, and 130 to AS. Forty patients changed treatment shortly after randomization, 21 to AS. Forty-eight AS patients with follow-up received radical treatment. Median follow-up was 19 months. Five patients died, none due to PCa; 8 had biochemical progression after radical therapy. Treatment-related acute grade 3 toxicity was reported in 3 RP patients and 2 PSI patients.

Conclusions: In this prematurely closed trial, we observed an unexpected high rate of termination of AS and an increased toxicity related to PSI. Patients hesitated to be randomized in a multi-arm trial. The optimal treatment of low and early-intermediate risk PCa remains unclear.

Keywords: Active surveillance; External beam radiotherapy; Permanent seed implantation; Prostate cancer; Prostatectomy; Randomized clinical trial.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brachytherapy / methods*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Disease Progression
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Prostatectomy / methods*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Watchful Waiting / methods*
  • Young Adult