Treatment and trials in non-metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer

Nat Rev Urol. 2021 Jul;18(7):433-442. doi: 10.1038/s41585-021-00470-4. Epub 2021 May 17.


Metastatic prostate cancer is associated with considerable morbidity and mortality. Standard treatment for non-metastatic prostate cancer, to prevent metastatic progression, is androgen deprivation therapy (ADT); however, many patients will eventually develop castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC), which can prove challenging to treat. Between the stages of non-metastatic androgen-sensitive disease and metastatic CRPC is an intermediate disease state that has been termed non-metastatic CRPC (nmCRPC), which is a heterogeneous, man-made disease stage that occurs after a patient who has no radiological evidence of metastasis shows evidence of cancer progression even after ADT. Awareness of nmCRPC has risen owing to an increased use of ADT and its eventual failure. Men with nmCRPC are at a high risk of progression to mCRPC, with historically few options to halt this process. However, in the past two decades, multiple therapies have been investigated for the treatment of nmCRPC, including endothelin receptor antagonists and bone-targeted therapies, but none has changed the standard of care. In the past decade, the efficacy of androgen receptor pathway-targeting modalities has been investigated. Three novel nonsteroidal antiandrogen agents for treating high-risk nmCRPC have been investigated; the PROSPER, SPARTAN and ARAMIS trials were phase III, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials that investigated the efficacy and safety of enzalutamide, apalutamide and darolutamide, respectively. All three therapeutics showed statistically significant improvements in metastasis-free survival, progression to antineoplastic therapy was lengthened and at final analysis, overall survival was significantly improved. The comparative efficacy and safety of all three agents has not yet been investigated in a comprehensive clinical trial, but approval of these medications by the FDA and other regulatory agencies means that providers now have three effective therapeutic options to augment ADT for patients with nmCRPC.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / drug therapy*
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Benzamides / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Nitriles / therapeutic use*
  • Nonsteroidal Anti-Androgens / therapeutic use*
  • Phenylthiohydantoin / therapeutic use*
  • Progression-Free Survival
  • Prostatic Neoplasms, Castration-Resistant / drug therapy*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms, Castration-Resistant / pathology
  • Pyrazoles / therapeutic use*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Survival Rate
  • Thiohydantoins / therapeutic use*


  • Benzamides
  • Nitriles
  • Nonsteroidal Anti-Androgens
  • Pyrazoles
  • Thiohydantoins
  • apalutamide
  • darolutamide
  • Phenylthiohydantoin
  • enzalutamide