Saturday, February 18, 2023

Duration of ADT needed with salvage radiation

No one wants androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) along with ("adjuvant to") salvage radiation therapy (SRT). We are accumulating evidence about how long one needs to stay on it to prevent the cancer from coming back, but judgment is still necessary.

There are some situations where it is unclear that SRT is needed at all (discussed in this link). This includes: a very long time (>18 months) before biochemical recurrence (BCR), slow doubling time, low Gleason score, elderly, significant comorbidities, no metastases with PSMA PET, and low Decipher score.

0-6 months ADT beneficial

GETUG-16 (article here) found that 6 months of ADT is better than no ADT. Incidence of metastases was improved by 27% among 743 patients.

SPPORT (RTOG 0534) found that 4-6 months was beneficial for everyone and that there was no difference between 4 and 6 months.  It was a very large trial (n=1,762) and used 8-year Freedom from Progression (mostly PSA) as its primary endpoint.

RADICALS-HD found that 6 months was no more beneficial than none! This was a large trial (n=1,500) that ran for 15 years. It used Metastasis Free Survival (MFS) as its primary endpoint. There was an 11% improvement in incidence of metastases which was not statistically significant.

DADSPORT meta-analysis sought to resolve the conflicting findings by combining the results of all 3 trials. It found an 18% improvement in incidence of metastases.

The endpoint and the follow-up are important. For men who are aged 60-70 at the time of prostatectomy, none of the trials had long enough follow-up to detect a difference in overall survival. MFS improvement may be small in the short-run, but metastases may appear later and adversely affect quality of life. Those who want to be definitively cured (i.e., no evidence of disease as evinced by PSA) should have at least short-term ADT.

24 months of ADT beneficial

RTOG 9601 showed that 24 months of adjuvant ADT did not improve survival when postprostatectomy PSA was below 0.7 ng/ml. A recent analysis by Spratt et al. suggested that adjuvant ADT is always necessary when PSA ≥ 1.5 ng/ml, but that risks may outweigh benefits when PSA is lower than 0.6 ng/ml. There were 760 patients with 13 years of follow-up. The primary endpoint was overall survival.

RADICALS-HD showed that 24 months of ADT improved survival over none or 6 months. 10-year MFS improved from 72% to 78%, while incidence of metastases declined by 23%. In the subgroup that had a PSA>0.5, incidence of metastases declined by 33%.

8 months (36 weeks) of ADT with enzalutamide

The EMBARK trial found that by intensifying ADT with enzalutamide (Xtandi) compared to ADT alone, the MFS improved by 58%, and PSA-free survival improved by 97% with 61 months of follow-up.

6 months of ADT with apalutamide and abiraterone

The Formula 509 trial found that by intensifying ADT with both apalutamide (Erleada) and abiraterone (Zytiga) compared to bicalutamide 50 mg/day, MFS improved by 43%, and PSA-free survival improved by 29% with 34 months of follow-up. Among post-op patients with PSA>0.5, MFS improved by 68%.

Positive lymph nodes

When cancerous lymph nodes are detected via pelvic lymph node dissection (PLND) at the time of prostatectomy, there is little doubt that 2-3 years of ADT are needed along with whole pelvic SRT (see this link). A PSMA PET scan may also identify cancerous pelvic nodes. One of the STAMPEDE trials lends credence to this strategy. They found that in men who were newly diagnosed with positive lymph nodes on a CT scan, 3 years of ADT with 2 years of abiraterone, decreased incidence of distant metastases by 47%. While this wasn't post-prostatectomy, it is hard to see why that fact would make a difference.

An NRG Oncology clinical trial is randomizing node-positive recurrent patients who will be getting SRT to 2 years of ADT with or without apalutamide.

AI and Genomics

Artificial intelligence (AI) is proving useful in determining the optimal duration of ADT. AI depends on feeding a lot of data about patients and their outcomes, so it will improve as a tool over the years.

Decipher scores based on the genomics of prostatectomy tissue can help discriminate between those that need more hormone therapy and those that need none.

Similarity to Adjuvant ADT with Primary Radiation

There is no reason why the decision about duration of adjuvant ADT post-prostatectomy should be different from the duration with primary external beam therapy. In general, the higher the risk, the longer the optimal duration. There are no precise cut-offs, so judgment and discussion with your radiation oncology is necessary.


  1. Hi Allen. Any thoughts on what would have occurred if there was a 4th arm...PBRT plus pelvic lymph nodes w/o ADT? Is mets-free survival derived from ADT or radiating the lymph nodes or unknown?

  2. There is no question that long-term ADT is necessary, as was shown in the STAMPEDE trial discussed above. MFS is derived from BOTH radiation and ADT.

    1. Thank you so be much for all the information. It makes me feel better knowing that my 50 year old son’s treatment is the best (adt generic Zytiga and radiation) . Post surgery 2 months after his PSA was 20. PSMA pet showed some pelvic lymph node involvement. He’s also tertiary 5. I have read that a follow up to the radiation is now treatment with Taxotere for another level treatment to make sure. Do you have any information on that too? Thank you so much.

    2. This may address your question: