Metastatic Spread in Prostate Cancer Patients Influencing Radiotherapy Response

Front Oncol. 2021 Mar 4:10:627379. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2020.627379. eCollection 2020.


Radiotherapy and surgery are curative treatment options for localized prostate cancer (PCa) with a 5-year survival rate of nearly 100%. Once PCa cells spread into distant organs, such as bone, the overall survival rate of patients drops dramatically. The metastatic cascade and organotropism of PCa cells are regulated by different cellular subtypes, organ microenvironment, and their interactions. This cross-talk leads to pre-metastatic niche formation that releases chemo-attractive factors enforcing the formation of distant metastasis. Biological characteristics of PCa metastasis impacting on metastatic sites, burden, and latency is of clinical relevance. Therefore, the implementation of modern hybrid imaging technologies into clinical routine increased the sensitivity to detect metastases at earlier stages. This enlarged the number of PCa patients diagnosed with a limited number of metastases, summarized as oligometastatic disease. These patients can be treated with androgen deprivation in combination with local-ablative radiotherapy or radiopharmaceuticals directed to metastatic sites. Unfortunately, the number of patients with disease recurrence is high due to the enormous heterogeneity within the oligometastatic patient population and the lack of available biomarkers with predictive potential for metastasis-directed radiotherapy. Another, so far unmet clinical need is the diagnosis of minimal residual disease before onset of clinical manifestation and/or early relapse after initial therapy. Here, monitoring of circulating and disseminating tumor cells in PCa patients during the course of radiotherapy may give us novel insight into how metastatic spread is influenced by radiotherapy and vice versa. In summary, this review critically compares current clinical concepts for metastatic PCa patients and discuss the implementation of recent preclinical findings improving our understanding of metastatic dissemination and radiotherapy resistance into standard of care.

Keywords: circulating tumor cells; metastasis; prostate cancer; radiopharmacy; radiotherapy.

Publication types

  • Review