Role of Changes in Magnetic Resonance Imaging or Clinical Stage in Evaluation of Disease Progression for Men with Prostate Cancer on Active Surveillance

Gregory T. Chesnut*, Emily A. Vertosick, Nicole Benfante, Daniel D. Sjoberg, Jonathan Fainberg, Taehyoung Lee, James Eastham, Vincent Laudone, Peter Scardino, Karim Touijer, Andrew Vickers, Behfar Ehdaie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Background: Active surveillance (AS) protocols rely on rectal examination, prostate-specific antigen, imaging, and biopsy to identify disease progression. Objective: To evaluate whether an AS regimen based on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or clinical stage changes can detect reclassification to grade group (GG) ≥2 disease compared with scheduled systematic biopsies. Design, setting, and participants: We identified a cohort of men initiated on AS between January 2013 and April 2016 at a single tertiary-care center. Patients completed confirmatory testing and prostate MRI prior to enrollment, then underwent laboratory and physical evaluation every 6 mo, MRI every 18 mo, and biopsy every 3 yr. Outcome measurements and statistical analysis: MRI results were evaluated using composite Likert/Prostate Imaging Reporting and Data System v2 scoring. MRI and clinical changes were assessed for association with disease progression. Univariable and multivariable regression models were used to predict upgrading on 3-yr biopsy. Results and limitations: At 3 yr, of 207 men, 66 (32%) had ≥ GG2 at biopsy: 55 (83%) with GG2, 10 (15%) with GG3, and one (1.5%) with GG4. Among patients with a 3-yr MRI score of ≥3, 41% had ≥ GG2 disease, compared with 15% with an MRI score of <3 (p = 0.0002). The MRI score increased in 48 men (23%), decreased in 27 (13%), and was unchanged in 132 (64%) men. Increases in MRI score were not associated with reclassification after adjusting for the 3-yr MRI score (p = 0.9). Biopsying only for an increased MRI score or clinical stage would avoid 681 biopsies per 1000 men, at the cost of missing ≥GG2 disease in 169 patients. Conclusions: An AS strategy that uses MRI or clinical changes to trigger prostate biopsy avoids many biopsies but misses an unacceptable amount of clinically significant disease. Prostate biopsy for men on AS should be performed at scheduled intervals, regardless of stable imaging or examination findings. Patient summary: An active surveillance strategy for biopsy based only on increases in magnetic resonance imaging score or clinical stage will avoid many biopsies; however, it will miss many patients with clinically significant prostate cancer. Negative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) on active surveillance (AS) cannot justify avoiding scheduled biopsy as the risk of clinically significant disease is too great. AS protocols should involve prostate-specific antigen, MRI, and physical examination combined with scheduled repeat biopsy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)501-507
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Urology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Active surveillance
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Progression
  • Prostate cancer
  • Prostate imaging


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