Routine interval computed tomography to detect new soft-tissue disease might be unnecessary in patients with androgen-independent prostate cancer and metastasis only to bone

Shenhong L. Wu, Elizabeth Jones, James L. Gulley, Philip M. Arlen, Clara C. Chen, William D. Figg, William L. Dahut*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To identify patients with androgen-independent prostate cancer (AIPC) with bone metastasis and no soft-tissue metastases at the time of protocol enrolment, and analyse their disease progression by computed tomography (CT), bone scan, and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level to determine the utility of routine interval CT in such patients. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Bone is the most common metastatic site in patients with AIPC and the only site of metastatic disease for many; because some with initial bone metastasis eventually develop soft-tissue disease, many clinical trials use routine CT to monitor for the latter as a sign of disease progression, but the actual incidence of new soft-tissue metastases is unknown and the role of routine interval CT in monitoring for disease progression, especially for asymptomatic patients, is unclear. Thus we reviewed 175 cases of metastatic AIPC from three randomized phase II clinical trials (docetaxel/thalidomide, docetaxel/vaccine, and ketoconazole/alendronate) at the National Cancer Institute between 1995 and 2004. The patients' PSA levels were assessed every 4 weeks, and CT and bone scans were done every 2-3 months. We retrospectively identified patients with bone metastasis only and examined subsequent CT for the occurrence of soft-tissue disease. For patients with progressive disease, we also examined bone scan and PSA progression. RESULTS: Of 175 patients with metastatic prostate cancer, 105 (60%) had bone metastasis only, 12 (6.9%) had soft-tissue metastases only, and 58 (33.1%) had both bone and soft-tissue metastases. The median (range) follow-up was 8 (1-44) months for the 105 patients with bone metastasis only. During that time, two patients (1.9%) developed new soft-tissue disease; one developed right iliac fossa lymphadenopathy after 8 months and the other developed a perirectal mass after 12 months. The patient with new lymphadenopathy also had multiple new bone lesions identified by bone scan and PSA progression. The patient with the perirectal mass had PSA progression and a palpable abnormality. CONCLUSION: This review of patients with AIPC and bone metastasis only, followed for a median of 8 months on clinical trials, shows that the incidence of asymptomatic new soft-tissue disease as the only sign of disease progression is quite low. Therefore, routine CT to exclude new soft-tissue disease in this population appears to be unwarranted. We recommend that for these patients CT is done only at the time of disease progression, as shown by bone scan, PSA level, or clinical presentation. We do not exclude the possibility that patients who remain on trial for significantly longer periods might benefit from routine interval CT.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)525-528
Number of pages4
JournalBJU International
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Androgen-independent prostate cancer
  • Bone metastasis
  • CT
  • Soft-tissue metastasis


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