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Systemic Therapy in Men with Metastatic Castration-resistant Prostate Cancer: A Systematic Review

D.A. Loblaw, C. Walker-Dilks, E. Winquist, S.J. Hotte.

Clinical Oncology, Volume 25, Issue 7, Pages 406-430. July 2013.


Editor's comments:

This review give a timely overview over the rapidly changing landscape in mCRPC treatment. However, due to the ongoing changes, timeliness may only last for some months.



Since 2004, docetaxel-based chemotherapy has been the standard of care for men with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC), but recently randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of novel agents have shown promise in extending overall survival. These trials have evaluated agents delivered before chemotherapy, to replace or supplement docetaxel, or addressed treatment options for men who have progressed on docetaxel therapy. This review was undertaken to determine which systemic therapies improve cancer- or patient-related outcomes in men with mCRPC.

Materials and methods

Searches were carried out in MEDLINE, EMBASE, the Cochrane Library and relevant conference proceedings. Eligible articles included RCTs comparing systemic therapy or combination (excluding primary or secondary androgen deprivation therapy, bone protective agents or radionuclides) with placebo or other agents in men with mCRPC.


Twenty-five RCTs met the selection criteria. In chemotherapy-naive patients, targeted therapy with tasquinimod conferred a benefit in progression-free survival. Immunotherapy with sipuleucel-T extended overall survival and was well tolerated, but had no effect on the time to disease progression. Hypercastration with abiraterone extended progression-free survival, whereas overall survival was improved but not statistically proven. In the chemotherapy setting, updated and new trials of docetaxel alone confirmed the survival benefit seen in previous studies. A survival benefit with the addition of estramustine to docetaxel shown in a previous study did not lead to an improvement in pain palliation or quality of life. Trials of combining targeted therapies with docetaxel generally did not extend survival. The addition of bevacizumab improved progression-free survival, but not overall survival. The addition of GVAX immunotherapy or calcitriol was harmful. In the post-chemotherapy setting, progression-free and overall survival benefits were detected with cabazitaxel, abiraterone and enzalutamide. Cabazitaxel was associated with greater toxicity, whereas abiraterone and enzalutamide had less severe adverse effects. Satraplatin and sunitinib both extended progression-free survival, but did not improve overall survival.


Docetaxel-based chemotherapy remains the standard of care in men with mCRPC who are candidates for palliative systemic therapy. Promising results are emerging with sipuleucel-T and abiraterone in the pre-docetaxel setting and cabazitaxel, abiraterone and enzalutamide in patients who progress on or after docetaxel. Further research to determine the optimal choice, sequence or even the combination of these agents is necessary.

© 2013 The Royal College of Radiologists.



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