Note: Some citations in the text of this section are followed by a level of evidence. The PDQ editorial boards use a formal ranking system to help the reader judge the strength of evidence linked to the reported results of a therapeutic strategy. (Refer to the PDQ summary on Levels of Evidence for more information.)
Stage I prostate cancer is defined by the American Joint Committee on Cancer's TNM classification system:
Four years ago, Santa gave me the worst Christmas present I'd ever received.
The day after the most joyous holiday of the year, my doctor called and
delivered the news that I had prostate cancer.
Because my dad had prostate cancer decades before, I had been going to a
urologist since I turned 40 to have a PSA [prostate-specific antigen test].
Recently, my PSA had shot up very high, to 29, and the following biopsy
confirmed that I had a highly aggressive tumor. At 50 years old, I faced the
The frequency of clinically silent, nonmetastatic prostate cancer that can be found at autopsy greatly increases with age and may be as high as 50% to 60% in men aged 90 years and older. Undoubtedly, the incidental discovery of these occult cancers at prostatic surgery performed for other reasons accounts for the similar survival of men with stage I prostate cancer, compared with the normal male population, adjusted for age. Many stage I cancers are well differentiated and only focally involve the gland (T1a, N0, M0); most require no treatment other than careful follow-up.
In a retrospective pooled analysis, 828 men with clinically localized prostate cancer were managed by initial conservative therapy with subsequent hormone therapy given at the time of symptomatic disease progression. This study showed that the patients with grade 1 or grade 2 tumors experienced a disease-specific survival of 87% at 10 years and that their overall survival (OS) closely approximated the expected survival among men of similar ages in the general population.
In younger patients (aged 50-60 years) whose expected survival is long, treatment should be considered. Radical prostatectomy, external-beam radiation therapy (EBRT), and interstitial implantation of radioisotopes and watchful waiting yield apparently similar survival rates in noncontrolled selected series. The decision to treat should be made in the context of the patient's age, associated medical illnesses, and personal desires.
Bicalutamide has not been shown to improve OS in patients with localized or locally advanced prostate cancer. The Early Prostate Cancer program is a large, randomized, placebo-controlled, international trial that compared bicalutamide (150 mg orally per day) plus standard care (radical prostatectomy, radiation therapy, or watchful waiting, depending on local custom) with standard care alone for men with nonmetastatic localized or locally advanced prostate cancer (T1-2, N0, NX; T3-4, any N; or any T, N+). Less than 2% of the 8,113 men had known node disease. At a median follow-up of 7.4 years, there was no difference in OS between the bicalutamide and placebo groups (about 76% in both arms [hazard ratio = 0.99; 95% confidence interval, 0.91-1.09; P = .89]).[Level of evidence: 1iA]