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Could Differences in Treatment Between Trial Arms Explain the Reduction in Prostate Cancer Mortality in the European Randomized Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer?

Journal article
Authors Sigrid Carlsson
Marianne Månsson
Sue Moss
Maciej Kwiatkowski
Franz Recker
Teuvo L J Tammela
Chris Bangma
Monique J Roobol
Anssi Auvinen
Jonas Hugosson
Published in European urology
Volume 75
Issue 6
Pages 1015-1022
ISSN 1873-7560
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Urology
Pages 1015-1022
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.eururo.2019.03...
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.f...
Subject categories Urology and Nephrology

Abstract

Differential treatment between trial arms has been suggested to bias prostate cancer (PC) mortality in the European Randomized Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer (ERSPC).To quantify the contribution of treatment differences to the observed PC mortality reduction between the screening arm (SA) and the control arm (CA).A total of 14 136 men with PC (SA: 7310; CA: 6826) in the core age group (55-69yr) at 16yr of follow-up.The outcomes measurements were observed and estimated numbers of PC deaths by treatment allocation in the SA and CA, respectively. Primary treatment allocation was modeled using multinomial logistic regression adjusting for center, age, year, prostate-specific antigen, grade group, and tumor-node-metastasis stage. For each treatment, logistic regression models were fitted for risk of PC death, separately for the SA and CA, and using the same covariates as for the treatment allocation model. Treatment probabilities were multiplied by estimated PC death risks for each treatment based on one arm, and then summed and compared with the observed number of deaths.The difference between the observed and estimated treatment distributions (hormonal therapy, radical prostatectomy, radiotherapy, and active surveillance/watchful waiting) in the two arms ranged from -3.3% to 3.3%. These figures, which represent the part of the treatment differences between arms that cannot be explained by clinicopathological differences, are small compared with the observed differences between arms that ranged between 7.2% and 10.1%. The difference between the observed and estimated numbers of PC deaths among men with PC was 0.05% (95% confidence interval [CI] -0.1%, 0.2%) when applying the CA model to the SA, had the two groups received identical primary treatment, given their clinical characteristics. When instead applying the SA model to the CA, the difference was, as expected, very similar-0.01% (95% CI -0.3%, 0.2%). Consistency of the results of the models demonstrates the robustness of the modeling approach. As the observed difference between trial arms was 4.2%, our findings suggest that differential treatment explains only a trivial proportion of the main findings of ERSPC. A limitation of the study is that only data on primary treatment were available.Use of prostate-specific antigen remains the predominant explanation for the reduction in PC mortality seen in the ERSPC trial and is not attributable to differential treatment between trial arms.This study shows that prostate cancer deaths in the European screening trial (European Randomized Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer) were prevented because men were diagnosed and treated earlier through prostate-specific antigen screening, and not because of different, or better, treatment in the screening arm compared with the control arm.

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