Sunday, September 30, 2018

Survival benefit to debulking the prostate with radiation in men with low metastatic burden

The term "debulking" denotes the radical treatment (via prostatectomy or radiation) of the cancerous prostate after distant metastases have been discovered. This first randomized clinical trial of debulking with external beam radiation found that there was no overall survival benefit.

Results of the STAMPEDE randomized clinical trial were published in the Lancet. Like the HORRAD trial (see below), they found there was no survival benefit to radiation debulking among all newly diagnosed men with metastases (Stage M1). Unlike the HORRAD trial, they utilized higher radiation doses.

Newly diagnosed men were treated with standard of care (which at the time meant ADT and docetaxel in 18% of the men) and were randomized to no radiation debulking or hypofractionated radiation, consisting of either:
  • 55 Gy in 20 daily treatments, or
  • 36 Gy in 6 weekly treatments (note: this bioequivalent dose is 15% higher)
However it made a big difference in survival if the men were oligometastatic (1-3 distant metastases). After 37 months median follow-up:
  • Survival increased by 32% (hazard ratio = 0.68) in 819 oligometastatic men
    • 3 yr survival was 81% with debulking vs 73% without debulking
  • No survival increase among the 1,120 polymetastatic men (defined as visceral metastases or 4 or more bone metastases with at least 1 outside the axial skeleton)
Survival increases were also noted among men with only pelvic lymph node metastases (N1M0), in whom whole pelvic radiation may be curative.

Adverse events from the radiation were generally mild:
  • 5% had grade 3 (serious) or higher acute urinary or rectal side effects
  • 4% had grade 3 (serious) or higher late-term urinary or rectal side effects

Based on this and their other randomized clinical trials, men with lower metastatic burden should be treated with ADT+Zytiga or ADT+docetaxel, followed in 2 months with local hypofractionated radiation. Men with higher metastatic burden should be treated with ADT+Zytiga or ADT+docetaxel (it is unknown whether ADT+Zytiga+docetaxel adds any additional benefit). Metastasis-directed therapy is under investigation.

(Update 2/18/2021) Because controversy exists in how to define "low metastatic burden," Ali et al. undertook a secondary analysis of the STAMPEDE trial. They found that the benefit of RT debulking was greatest in two groups:
  1. 1-3 bone metastases (M1b) with no visceral metastases
  2. Only non-pelvic lymph node metastases (M1a) with no visceral metastases
The survival benefit dropped off after 3 bone metastases. There was no benefit in anyone with any visceral metastases (M1c). Metastases are counted based on conventional imaging (bone scan/CT), so metastases found on PET scans do not count towards the total.

(Update 6/7/2022) Long-term follow-up (61 months) of the STAMPEDE trial, confirmed earlier findings:
  • Survival increased by 36% if low burden
  • Survival decreased by 11% if high burden (not statistically significant)
  • No difference in quality of life

BoevĂ© et al. reported the results of 432 men with bone metastases at 28 centers in the Netherlands from 2004 to 2014 (the HORRAD trial). They had received no previous treatments. They all had PSA > 20 ng/ml at the start of treatment and were under 80 years of age. They were randomized to receive either:
  1. Lifelong ADT (an LHRH agonist, starting with 4 weeks of an anti-androgen)
  2. Lifelong ADT + external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) 
The EBRT dose was 70 Gy (35 treatments of 2 Gy each) or 57.8 Gy (19 treatments of 3.04 Gy each), which are biologically equivalent. No whole pelvic radiation or brachy boost therapy was given.

After 47 months median follow-up, the median overall survival was:

  • 45 months in the group that received ADT + EBRT
  • 43 months in the group that received ADT only
The difference was not significant

The authors also looked at survival differences based on:
  • Number of bone metastases (<5, 5-15, >15)
  • PSA at diagnosis (greater or less than 60 ng/ml)
  • Gleason score
  • Stage
  • Age
  • Performance status
  • Painful bone metastases

None made any significant difference in survival.

The time to PSA progression was slightly longer among those who received EBRT (15 months vs. 12 months), but the statistical significance vanished after correction for patient characteristics.

These disappointing results conflict with several retrospective database analyses. This once again illustrates that only prospective randomized clinical trials can prove a causal relation, and that observational studies are confounded by the vagaries of patient selection; i.e., patients who receive debulking in actual clinical practice are the ones who would do better anyway. It is worth noting that a similar thing had occurred with breast cancer. Several retrospective studies had suggested that resection of the breast tumor  plus axillary lymph nodes increased survival even when distant metastases were detected. However, Badwe et al. reported that when women were prospectively randomized to that treatment or no such treatment, there was no survival difference.

Because this trial began over a decade ago, it does not include radiation doses now considered to be curative (around 80 Gy). Nor does it include brachy boost therapy, which was shown to be superior to EBRT alone in high risk patients in the ASCENDE-RT randomized clinical trial. It is also unknown what effect whole-pelvic radiation or metastasis-directed therapy might have had, or whether prostatectomy with or without extended pelvic lymph node dissection (ePLND) may have increased survival.

(update 7/3/22) Dai et al. reported the results of an RCT among 200 men with oligometastatic PCa randomized to ADT alone or ADT with debulking the prostate with radiation or surgery (85% had surgery). After a median follow-up of 48 months:
  • Radiographic progression was reduced by 57% by debulking
  • Mortality was reduced by 56% by debulking
  • PSA progression was reduced by 56% by debulking
These clinical trials began before CHAARTED, STAMPEDE, and LATITUDE clinical trials proved that early treatment with docetaxel and abiraterone improves survival in newly diagnosed metastatic men. It is unknown what effect debulking may have in men pre-treated with those systemic therapies.

Many of these unknowns are being explored in current clinical trials. The randomized clinical trial of debulking at 257 US locations will allow for systemic pre-treatments and either EBRT or surgery. This clinical trial in Canada allows for treatment with surgery, HDR brachytherapy, chemotherapy, and SBRT to metastases. This clinical trial in Europe allows for treatment with  docetaxel, and abiraterone. This clinical trial in Germany randomizes patients to prostatectomy + ePLND or best systemic therapy.

Because radiation and prostatectomy have adverse effects, this study should make patients cautious about having any kind of debulking outside of a clinical trial.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Free Randomized Clinical Trial of Ga-68-PSMA-11 PET indicator at UCLA

UCLA is now running a randomized clinical trial of the Ga-68-PSMA-11 PET indicator for men  with a recurrence (PSA≥ 0.1 ng/ml) after prostatectomy who are considering salvage radiation therapy (SRT). They are expanding and adding a control arm to the trial they did earlier (see this link) that found that the PSMA-based PET scan was able to change treatment decisions in about half the men.

Here are the trial details and the contact info:

UCLA normally charges $2650 for the PET indicator, so this is an opportunity to save some money. If a patient is randomized to the control group, he may still get an Axumin PET scan when his PSA is confirmed above 0.2 ng/ml, which is covered by Medicare and most insurance. The Axumin PET scan only detects cancer in 38% of patients if their PSA is in the range of 0.2-1.0 ng/ml, while the Ga-68-PSMA-11 PET scan detects cancer in about 27%-58% of recurrent men whose PSA is between 0.2 and 0.5. UCLA recently completed another free clinical trial comparing Axumin to Ga-68-PSMA.

I'm told that the NIH trial of another PSMA PET indicator, DCFPyL, has a waiting list of 2-3 months, and they are no longer taking patients whose PSA is below 0.5 ng/ml. It is possible to pay for PSMA-based PET scans in Germany and Australia. The newest and perhaps most accurate PSMA-based PET indicator, F(18)-PSMA-1007, is in clinical trials in Germany (see this link).

This trial is not open to men who have already had SRT, have known metastases, have had ADT within the last 3 months, or who cannot have radiation for any reason.