Current clinical challenges in prostate cancer

Jonathan L. Silberstein, Sumanta Kumar Pal, Brian Lewis, Oliver Sartor


Prostate cancer is the most common malignancy and the second leading cause of cancer death in men in the United States. Close to $12 billion are spent annually on the treatment of prostate cancer in the US alone. Yet still there remain tremendous controversies and challenges that exist in all facets of the disease. This review and discussion will focus on issues and challenges for clinicians and patients diagnosed with the disease.

Appropriate risk stratification for men with newly diagnosed prostate cancer is an appropriate first step for all patients. Once risk-stratified, for those with low-risk of death, it is increasingly recognized that overtreatment creates an unnecessary burden for many patients. This is particularly evident when put in the context of competing comorbidities in an elderly population. For those with advanced or high-risk localized disease, under-treatment remains too common. For those with a high-risk of recurrence or failure following primary treatment, adjuvant or salvage therapies are an option, but how and when to best deploy these treatments are controversial.

Recently, tremendous progress has been made for those with advanced disease, in particular those with metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC). Within the last 4 years, five novel FDA approved agents, acting through distinct mechanisms have been FDA approved for mCRPC. With the introduction of these new agents a host of new challenges have arisen. Timing, sequencing and combinations of these novel agents are welcomed challenges when compared with the lack of available therapies just a few years ago. In this summary of current clinical challenges in prostate cancer we review critical recent studies that have created or shifted the current paradigms of treatment for prostate cancer. We will also highlight ongoing issues that continue to challenge our field.