Due to an improving prognosis, and increased knowledge of intervention effects over time, long-term well-being among prostate cancer (PC) survivors has gained increasing attention. Yet, despite a variety of available PC interventions, experts currently disagree on optimal intervention course based on survival rates.
In January 2017, we searched multiple databases to identify relevant articles. Studies were required to assess at least two different dimensions of health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in PC survivors ≥5 years past diagnosis with validated measures.
Identified studies (n = 13) were mainly observational cohort studies (n = 10), conducted in developed countries with a sample size below 100 per study arm (n = 6). External-beam radiation therapy was the most common intervention (n = 12), whereas only three studies included patients on active surveillance or on watchful waiting.
Studies were largely heterogeneous in cancer stage at diagnosis, intervention groups and instruments. All identified studies either used the EORTC QLQ-C30 (n = 5) or the SF-36 (n = 7) to assess generic HRQoL, yet 11 different instruments were employed to assess PC specific urinary, bowel and sexual symptoms. Overall, no consistent pattern between intervention and HRQoL was observed. Results from two randomized-controlled-trials (RCTs) and one observational study, comparing HRQoL by primary intervention in localized PC survivors suggest that long-term HRQoL does not differ by intervention. However, observational studies that included a combination of localized and locally advanced stage PC survivors identified HRQoL differences for various scales including physical well-being, social and role function, vitality, and role emotional.
This review reveals the number of publications comparing HRQoL by primary intervention in long-term PC survivors is currently limited. Robust data from two RCTs and one observational study suggest that HRQoL does not seem to differ by intervention. However, the heterogeneity of studies’ methodologies and results hindered our ability to draw a clear conclusion. Therefore, in order to answer the question of which primary intervention is superior with respect to long-term HRQoL in PC patients, more high-quality, large-scale prospective cohort studies, or RCTs with repeated HRQoL assessments, are urgently needed.