Evolution from active surveillance to focal therapy in the management of prostate cancer Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Organ-preserving therapies are widely accepted in many facets of medicine and, more recently, in oncology. For example, partial nephrectomy is now accepted as a preferred alternative over radical nephrectomy for small (up to 4 cm or T1) tumors. Focal therapy (FT) is another organ-preserving strategy applying energy (cryotherapy, laser ablation and/or high-intensity focused ultrasound) to destroy tumors while leaving the majority of the organ, surrounding tissue and structures unscathed and functional. Owing to the perceived multifocality of prostate cancer (PCa) technology limitations, in the past PCa was not considered suitable for FT. However, with the rise of active surveillance for the management of low-risk PCa in carefully selected patients, FT is emerging as an alternative. This is owing to technology improvements in imaging and energy-delivery systems to ablate tissue, as well as the realization that many men and clinicians still desire tumor control. With the postulated ability to ablate tumors with minimal morbidity, FT may have found a role in the management of PCa; the aim of FT a being long-term cancer control without the morbidity associated with radical therapies. Data for FT in PCa have been derived from case series and small Phase I trials, with larger cohort studies with longer follow-up having only just commenced. More data from large trials on the safety and efficacy of FT are required before this approach can be recommended in men with PCa. Importantly, studies must confirm that no viable cancer cells remain in the region of ablation. FT might eventually prove to be a 'middle ground' between active surveillance and radical treatment, combining minimal morbidity with cancer control and the potential for retreatment.

publication date

  • 2011