September 20, 2018
2 min read

Personalized predictions improve patients’ understanding of their prostate cancer risk

You've successfully added to your alerts. You will receive an email when new content is published.

Click Here to Manage Email Alerts

We were unable to process your request. Please try again later. If you continue to have this issue please contact

Craig Pollack
Craig Pollack

Providing individualized predictions to men on active surveillance for prostate cancer helped them better comprehend their risk for the disease, according to findings recently published in Urology.

“As a primary care doctor, I see patients with prostate cancer that sometimes choose surgery or radiation because they are too nervous to try active surveillance. For those who elect active surveillance, they can be worried about the cancer becoming more aggressive,” Craig Pollack, MD, MHS, co-director of the General Internal Medicine Fellowship Program at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told Healio Family Medicine.

“We wanted to see what tools we could use to try to help patients be more confident about their treatment.”

Researchers surveyed men from an active surveillance program regarding their cancer’s status and how confident they were in the effectiveness of the treatment option they chose as determined by the Cancer Control scale. The men’s feelings regarding biopsy-specific anxiety and burden from cancer-related information before and after they implemented a previously-developed risk prediction tool were also recorded. This tool combined data on men’s prostate biopsies and repeated PSA measurements to predict their risk for prostate cancer based on how patients with similar characteristics fared. Of the 67 men in the survey, 31 men were shown the tool, the others served as the control group.

Pollack and colleagues found that on a scale from 0 to 100, men who were not shown the tool saw a 6.3-point increase in their perceived cancer control whereas men who were shown the tool saw a 12.8-point increase (P = 0.04). Biopsy-specific anxiety and burden from cancer information were not significantly different between groups.

“Active surveillance is an important and often the preferred treatment strategy for men with low risk prostate cancer. As more men are enrolled in active surveillance, we need strategies to help ensure that their needs — in terms of cancer surveillance and psychosocial concerns — are being addressed. This tool is a step in that direction,” Pollack said in the interview.

“Recent USPSPTF guidelines on prostate cancer recently called for shared decision-making,” he added.” As more men choose active surveillance, [our] tool provides important information that supports them in their ongoing care, helping them feel more confident that their cancer is under control.” – by Janel Miller

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.