Treatments for Metastatic Hormone-sensitive Prostate Cancer: Systematic Review, Network Meta-analysis, and Benefit-harm assessment

Eur Urol Oncol. 2022 Dec;5(6):605-616. doi: 10.1016/j.euo.2022.04.007. Epub 2022 May 20.


Context: Multiple treatments for metastatic, hormone-sensitive prostate cancer (mHSPC) are available, but their effects on health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and benefit-harm balance remain unclear.

Objective: To assess clinical effectiveness regarding survival and HRQoL, safety, and benefit-harm balance of mHSPC treatments.

Evidence acquisition: We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, CENTRAL, and until March 1, 2022. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing docetaxel, abiraterone, enzalutamide, apalutamide, darolutamide, and radiotherapy combined with androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) mutually or with ADT alone were eligible. Three reviewers independently performed screening, data extraction, and risk of bias assessment in duplicate.

Evidence synthesis: Across ten RCTs, we found relevant survival benefits for ADT + docetaxel (high certainty according to the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation [GRADE]), ADT + abiraterone (moderate certainty), ADT + enzalutamide (low certainty), ADT + apalutamide (high certainty), and ADT + docetaxel + darolutamide (high certainty) compared with ADT alone. ADT + radiotherapy appeared effective only in low-volume de novo mHSPC. We found a short-term HRQoL decrease lasting 3-6 mo for ADT + docetaxel (moderate certainty) and a potential HRQoL benefit for ADT + abiraterone up to 24 mo of follow-up (moderate certainty) compared with ADT alone. There was no difference in HRQoL for ADT + enzalutamide, ADT + apalutamide, or ADT + radiotherapy over ADT alone (low-high certainty). Grade 3-5 adverse effect rates were increased with all systemic combination treatments. A benefit-harm assessment showed high probabilities (>60%) for a net clinical benefit with ADT + abiraterone, ADT + enzalutamide, and ADT + apalutamide, while ADT + docetaxel and ADT + docetaxel + darolutamide appeared unlikely (<40%) to be beneficial.

Conclusions: Despite substantial survival benefits, no systemic combination treatment showed a clear HRQoL improvement compared with ADT alone. We found evidence for a short-term HRQoL decline with ADT + docetaxel and a higher net clinical benefit with ADT + abiraterone, ADT + apalutamide and ADT + enzalutamide. While individualized decision-making remains important and economic factors need to be considered, the evidence may support a general preference for the combination of ADT with androgen receptor axis-targeted therapies over docetaxel-containing strategies.

Patient summary: We assessed different combination treatments for metastatic hormone-sensitive prostate cancer. While survival was better with all systemic combination treatments, there was no clear improvement in health-related quality of life compared with androgen deprivation therapy alone. Novel hormonal combination treatments had a more favorable benefit-harm balance than combination treatments that include chemotherapy.

Keywords: Adverse effects; Benefit-harm assessment; Benefit-harm balance; Health-related quality of life; Network meta-analysis; Overall survival; Prostate cancer; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Androgens* / therapeutic use
  • Docetaxel / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Network Meta-Analysis
  • Prostatic Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Prostatic Neoplasms* / pathology


  • enzalutamide
  • Docetaxel
  • Androgens