Sunday, May 23, 2021

Abiraterone+docetaxel+ADT for newly diagnosed metastatic men beats docetaxel+ADT (or abiraterone+ADT)

The first results of the long-awaited PEACE-1 randomized clinical trial (RCT) are in. They randomized newly diagnosed metastatic men to either prostate radiation or abiraterone or standard-of-care (SOC). SOC included docetaxel for many of the men.

Radiographic progression-free survival increased by 2.5 years (from 2.0 to 4.5 yrs) with the addition of abiraterone to docetaxel. Time to castration resistance increased by 1.7 yrs (from 1.5 to 3.2 yrs). 

The full results will tell us how much the prostate radiation adds, and the effect on overall survival. The analysis by metastatic burden will be important too. Meanwhile, docetaxel+abiraterone+ADT should be considered the new standard of care.

How does this combination therapy compare to previous RCTs for docetaxel or abiraterone?

Because the STAMPEDE RCTs for docetaxel and abiraterone occurred at about the same time, 566 patients were randomized to one or the other. Sydes et al. reported the outcomes after a median of 4 years of follow-up. 
  • Abiraterone reduced PSA more quickly, as reflected in "failure-free survival" (time to PSA increase, clinical progression, or death) and "progression-free survival" (time to first "failure" event, excluding PSA). 
  • Those who received docetaxel first soon caught up. There were no significant differences in "metastasis-free survival," "prostate cancer-specific survival," "overall survival," or "time to the first skeletal-related event (pain or fracture)"
  • Serious toxicity (Grade 3 or greater) was also equal: 50% for docetaxel, 48% for abiraterone.

The STAMPEDE researchers (the STOPCAP group) did a meta-analysis of the STAMPEDE trials that concluded that abiraterone probably had a greater effect than docetaxel, but unlike the analysis above, it was not a direct comparison. They concluded that either should be recommended.

The other RCTs for metastatic hormone-sensitive prostate cancer (mHSPC) included STAMPEDE- abiraterone, LATITUDE- abiraterone, STAMPEDE-docetaxel, CHAARTED-docetaxel.GETUG-AFU-15(docetaxel) did not detect a difference in survival from the early use of docetaxel. 30% had prior treatment. There were differences in the populations studied in each trial that should be understood.

LATITUDE screened for more advanced patients - 80% were "high risk." High risk was defined by having 2 of 3 "high-risk" features, either: Gleason 8-10, or ≥ 3 bone metastases or visceral metastases. About half had performance status of 1 or 2 ("0" is the best performance status).

CHAARTED started by recruiting only patients with a high burden of metastases. But only 73% were de novo, meaning 27% had been previously treated before they entered the trial. They later opened the trial to men with fewer metastases and ended up with a small group (27%) of low burden de novo patients. They defined "high burden" as visceral metastases or ≥ 4 metastases with at least 1 outside the axial skeleton.

The two STAMPEDE trials recruited almost entirely (95%) de novo patients. 56% were "high burden" by the CHAARTED definition. 52% were "high risk" by the LATITUDE definition. 26% had performance status of 1 or 2.

PEACE1 recruited only de novo metastatic patients, with excellent performance status. 57% had high-risk features by the LATITUDE definition.

The following chart shows how long it took for patients to progress on each of the early interventions. Complicating analysis, each trial used a slightly different definition of progression.

Time to "progression" following each early therapy


abiraterone+docetaxel+ADT

docetaxel+ADT

abiraterone+ADT

ADT alone

Trial notes

PEACE1*

4.5 yrs

2.0 yrs



100% de novo, 100% perf. status 0, 57% high volume

STAMPEDE

(abiraterone)



Not reached (> 3.4 yrs)

2.0 yrs

94% de novo,26% perf.status 1 or 2, 55% high volume

LATITUDE*

(abiraterone)



2.8 yrs

1.2 yrs

100% de novo, 45% perf. Status 1 or 2, 80% high volume/high risk

STAMPEDE

(docetaxel)


3.1 yrs


1.7 yrs

95% de novo, 56% high volume

CHAARTED§

(docetaxel)


2.8 yrs


1.7 yrs

73% de novo, 65% high volume

* time to radiographic progression or death
time to first symptomatic event or death
§ time to symptoms or radiographic progression

While comparison is complicated, the extension of progression-free survival by 2.5 years by adding abiraterone to docetaxel alone is impressive. Docetaxel adds 1 - 1.5 years to progression-free survival over ADT alone. Abiraterone adds 1 - 1.5 years to progression-free survival over ADT alone.

Does docetaxel only benefit mHSPC patients with a high-volume of metastases?

This has stirred much controversy. Gravis et al. argue that the overall survival improvement from docetaxel was seen in CHAARTED only among men with high-volume metastases was a real biological effect (i.e., that high-volume PC is a different disease from low-volume PC, that responds differently to chemo). Armstrong argues for a biological difference. They acknowledge, however, that the small sample size of de novo men with low volume metastases (n=154) and their short follow-up (only 16% had died during the 48 months of follow-up) may be underestimating the benefit in the low volume, de novo subgroup. Remember that in CHAARTED, the low-volume subgroup was not recruited initially, so the follow-up is shorter in the group that needs the longer follow-up.

Clarke et al. argue that STAMPEDE is the more definitive trial because its sample size of mHSPC men with low-volume metastases was over twice as great (n=362) and the follow-up was longer (62% of the docetaxel patients had died during 78 months of follow-up). They did not find evidence of heterogeneity - low-volume PC responded just as much to chemo as high-volume PC. While the effect on low volume PC was similar, the statistical confidence in its effect did not meet 95% confidence. They attribute this to insufficient sample size (power). Suzman and Antonarakis agree that chemo should be offered to all mHSPC men, regardless of volume of metastases. It would seem that a meta-analysis combining the low-volume, de novo subgroups from both CHAARTED and STAMPEDE might be sufficiently powered to provide a more definitive answer. Patients wishing to understand why analyses of subgroups are controversial, may be amused by this analysis of STAMPEDE subgroups. The authors found that patients born on a Monday benefited the most from abiraterone, and it was statistically significant. while patients born on a Friday had the least benefit, and it wasn't statistically significant. They further found that men diagnosed on a Monday did not benefit from abiraterone, whereas men diagnosed on other days had a statistically significant benefit. These absurd findings are sometimes known as "p-hacking" or "data dredging." This interview discusses this error and the mistake of drawing biological inferences from statistical significance. Pre-specifying subgroups is one way to avoid such errors, but drawing conclusions from inadequately powered subgroups, while tempting, should be avoided. This controversy is reflected in the conflicting recommendations that constitute the standard of care.

The current NCCN guidelines state: "Docetaxel should not be offered to men with low volume metastatic prostate cancer, since this subgroup was not shown to have improved survival in either the ECOG study or a similar European (GETUG-AFU 15) trial." The current ASCO guidelines state: "Recommendation 1.2. For patients with low-volume metastatic disease (LVD) as defined per CHAARTED who are candidates for chemotherapy, docetaxel plus ADT should not be offered (Type: evidence-based, benefits outweigh harms; Evidence quality: high; Strength of recommendation: strong for patients with LVD)." On the other hand, the current AUA/ASTRO/SUO guidelines state: "15. In patients with mHSPC, clinicians should offer continued ADT in combination with either androgen pathway directed therapy (abiraterone acetate plus prednisone, apalutamide, enzalutamide) or chemotherapy (docetaxel). (Strong Recommendation; Evidence Level: Grade A) Canadian Urological Assn (CUA) guidelines state: "Docetaxel plus ADT may also be an option in patients with mCNPC/mCSPC with good performance status with low-volume disease (Level 2, Weak recommendation)." NICE (UK) guidelines state: "Offer docetaxel chemotherapy to people with newly-diagnosed metastatic prostate cancer who do not have significant comorbidities." European Urological Assn (EAU) guidelines state: "Based on these data, upfront docetaxel combined with ADT should be considered as a standard in men presenting with metastases at first presentation provided they are fit enough to receive the drug [1070]"

I personally believe that the STAMPEDE researchers make a stronger case pending better data from PEACE1.

It is also possible that genomics will allow better selection of patients for early chemotherapy. Hamid et al. examined tissue collected for the CHAARTED trial. They found a subtype called "Luminal B" that was associated with improved survival from chemotherapy. This finding has not yet been validated on an independent trial. Meanwhile, DECIPHER provides the test as part of its GRID analysis.

The major advantages of early chemo vs "saving it for later" are:
  • Longer survival advantage
  • Side effects are milder when patients are less debilitated from years of cancer
  • As many as 10 infusions (usually 6) can be given if it is well tolerated
  • Most patients are not resistant, so docetaxel can be repeated
  • If there is resistance, cabazitaxel can be given


Tuesday, May 18, 2021

New Guidelines for Salvage Radiation Dimensions

It has always been troubling that only about half of all salvage radiation treatments after prostatectomy failure are successful. Usually, only the prostate bed is treated. But sometimes recurrent patients (or those with persistently elevated PSA) receive salvage radiation to the pelvic lymph nodes as well, or subsequently. Radiation oncologists usually follow RTOG (now called NRG Oncology) guidelines on what constitutes the dimensions of the prostate bed and the pelvic lymph nodes.

Prostate Bed Coverage

Often, the cancer has only penetrated into the bed or fossa. This is especially suspected if there are significant positive surgical margins. The 2010 RTOG consensus guidelines were updated in 2020 by the Francophone Group of Urological Radiotherapy (GFRU) based on standard imaging (MRI and CT). Harmon et al. reported on 45 patients within the LOCATE trial who received a positive Axumin PET/CT upon recurrence or persistent PSA after prostatectomy.

  • 30 patients had cancer in the prostate fossa
  • The 2010 RTOG guidelines completely or partially missed cancer in 33% of the patients
  • The 2020 GFRU guidelines completely or partially missed cancer in 10% of the patients
The new GFRU guidelines are clearly superior in terms of oncological outcomes, but toxicity must be considered as well.

Pelvic Lymph Node Coverage

In 2020, NRG Oncology revised its previous 2009 RTOG pelvic lymph node coverage consensus guidelines based on MRI and PET scans. They recommended coverage as high as the aortic bifurcation or common iliac lymph nodes (whichever is higher, depending on patient anatomy), which is about the level of the L4-L5 vertebrae. The expanded coverage area extends down to the pre-sacral nodes at the bottom of vertebra S3. Harmon et al. also validated the expanded NRG Oncology guidelines based on Axumin PET/CT scans. They found:

  • There were 43 sites of cancer in the pelvic lymph nodes
  • The 2009 RTOG guidelines completely or partially missed 32% of the nodal cancers
  • The 2020 NRG Oncology guidelines completely or partially missed none of the nodal cancers

The SPPORT trial found that treating pelvic lymph nodes prophylactically improved outcomes, but wasn't necessary in patients with low PSA. This study did not examine the toxicity of the expanded coverage. The wider margins of the prostate bed will probably increase genitourinary toxicity. Careful contouring of the pelvic lymph node area to exclude bowel, bone, bladder, and muscle seems to prevent excess toxicity at the doses usually used (45-50.4 Gy). In one recent study of high-risk patients, a pelvic lymph node dose as high as 56 Gy was used without extra toxicity. Boosted site doses can also be utilized where PET/CT  or MRI has identified specific tumors. However, treatment should not be delayed until such tumors become apparent on imaging.