Local Failure Events in Prostate Cancer Treated with Radiotherapy: A Pooled Analysis of 18 Randomized Trials from the Meta-analysis of Randomized Trials in Cancer of the Prostate Consortium (LEVIATHAN)

Eur Urol. 2022 Nov;82(5):487-498. doi: 10.1016/j.eururo.2022.07.011. Epub 2022 Aug 5.


Context: The prognostic importance of local failure after definitive radiotherapy (RT) in National Comprehensive Cancer Network intermediate- and high-risk prostate cancer (PCa) patients remains unclear.

Objective: To evaluate the prognostic impact of local failure and the kinetics of distant metastasis following RT.

Evidence acquisition: A pooled analysis was performed on individual patient data of 12 533 PCa (6288 high-risk and 6245 intermediate-risk) patients enrolled in 18 randomized trials (conducted between 1985 and 2015) within the Meta-analysis of Randomized Trials in Cancer of the Prostate Consortium. Multivariable Cox proportional hazard (PH) models were developed to evaluate the relationship between overall survival (OS), PCa-specific survival (PCSS), distant metastasis-free survival (DMFS), and local failure as a time-dependent covariate. Markov PH models were developed to evaluate the impact of specific transition states.

Evidence synthesis: The median follow-up was 11 yr. There were 795 (13%) local failure events and 1288 (21%) distant metastases for high-risk patients and 449 (7.2%) and 451 (7.2%) for intermediate-risk patients, respectively. For both groups, 81% of distant metastases developed from a clinically relapse-free state (cRF state). Local failure was significantly associated with OS (hazard ratio [HR] 1.17, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.06-1.30), PCSS (HR 2.02, 95% CI 1.75-2.33), and DMFS (HR 1.94, 95% CI 1.75-2.15, p < 0.01 for all) in high-risk patients. Local failure was also significantly associated with DMFS (HR 1.57, 95% CI 1.36-1.81) but not with OS in intermediate-risk patients. Patients without local failure had a significantly lower HR of transitioning to a PCa-specific death state than those who had local failure (HR 0.32, 95% CI 0.21-0.50, p < 0.001). At later time points, more distant metastases emerged after a local failure event for both groups.

Conclusions: Local failure is an independent prognosticator of OS, PCSS, and DMFS in high-risk and of DMFS in intermediate-risk PCa. Distant metastasis predominantly developed from the cRF state, underscoring the importance of addressing occult microscopic disease. However a "second wave" of distant metastases occurs subsequent to local failure events, and optimization of local control may reduce the risk of distant metastasis.

Patient summary: Among men receiving definitive radiation therapy for high- and intermediate-risk prostate cancer, about 10% experience local recurrence, and they are at significantly increased risks of further disease progression. About 80% of patients who develop distant metastasis do not have a detectable local recurrence preceding it.

Keywords: Distant metastasis; Local control; Local failure; Pooled analysis; Prostate cancer; Radiation therapy.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local* / pathology
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen
  • Prostatic Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Prostate-Specific Antigen