Pre-treatment risk stratification of prostate cancer patients: A critical review
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INTRODUCTION: The use of accepted prostate cancer risk stratification groups based on prostate-specific antigen, T stage and Gleason score assists in therapeutic treatment decision-making, clinical trial design and outcome reporting. The utility of integrating novel prognostic factors into an updated risk stratification schema is an area of current debate. The purpose of this work is to critically review the available literature on novel pre-treatment prognostic factors and alternative prostate cancer risk stratification schema to assess the feasibility and need for changes to existing risk stratification systems. METHODS: A systematic literature search was conducted to identify original research publications and review articles on prognostic factors and risk stratification in prostate cancer. Search terms included risk stratification, risk assessment, prostate cancer or neoplasms, and prognostic factors. Abstracted information was assessed to draw conclusions regarding the potential utility of changes to existing risk stratification schema. RESULTS: The critical review identified three specific clinically relevant potential changes to the most commonly used three-group risk stratification system: (1) the creation of a very-low risk category; (2) the splitting of intermediate-risk into a low- and high-intermediate risk groups; and (3) the clarification of the interface between intermediate- and high-risk disease. Novel pathological factors regarding high-grade cancer, subtypes of Gleason score 7 and percentage biopsy cores positive were also identified as potentially important risk-stratification factors. CONCLUSIONS: Multiple studies of prognostic factors have been performed to create currently utilized prostate cancer risk stratification systems. We propose potential changes to existing systems.