Objective — To provide a population-based description of current practice in the use of hormonal management of prostate cancer.
Design, Setting and Participants — All men in Ontario, Canada, age 65 and older, with confirmed prostate cancer starting maintained hormonal therapy, from July 1992 through December 1998 (11,435 patients). Data sources included the provincial drug benefit plan, hospital services data, and Ontario Cancer Registry.
Outcome Measures — Rates and trends in the use of: surgical or medical castration; total androgen blockade (TAB); and monotherapies based on steroidal or nonsteroidal antiandrogens.
Results — In 5.5 years, use of ‘standard’ therapy based on surgical or medical castration alone dropped from 36% to 26% of patients, while the use of TAB doubled from 22% to 41%. Approximately 15% of patients received nonsteroidal antiandrogens without evidence of therapy aimed at central androgen blockade. Marked regional differences were observed and not explained by patient age or practitioner specialty.
Conclusions — New hormonal therapies for prostate cancer have implications in terms of disease control, patient survival, side effects, and costs. Rapid growth in prescribing of antiandrogens may represent an unnecessary expense for public or private payers, and observed regional differences likely reflect lack of consensus on the relative merit of TAB. Patients and practitioners must have current information on the advantages and disadvantages of different therapeutic options, and quality-of life, particularly with respect to emerging drug therapies.
Treatments in oncology