Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


UC San Francisco Previously Published Works bannerUCSF

Outcomes of men on active surveillance for low-risk prostate cancer at a safety-net hospital.



To characterize demographic, disease, and cancer outcomes of men on active surveillance (AS) at a safety-net hospital and characterize those who were lost to follow-up (LTFU).


From January 2004 to November 2014, 104 men with low-risk prostate cancer (PCa) were followed with AS at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital (ZSFG). Criteria for AS have evolved over time; however, patients with diagnostic prostate-specific antigen (PSA) 10ng/mL or less, clinical stage T1/2, biopsy Gleason score 3 + 3 or 3 + 4, 33% or fewer positive cores, and 50% or less tumor in any single core were potentially eligible for AS. Men were longitudinally followed with a PSA or digital rectal examination or both every 3 to 6 months, and repeat prostate biopsy every 1 to 2 years. Clinical staging and grading were based on a physical examination and at least a 12-core biopsy, respectively. LTFU was defined as failure to successfully contact patients with 3 phone calls or any urology visit recorded within 18 months from a prior visit or biopsy. A secondary chart review was performed using the electronic medical record at ZSFG as well as EPIC Systems CareEverywhere which allows access to select non-ZSFG institutions to confirm that patients were truly LTFU.


Among the 104 men on AS at ZSFG, the median age at diagnosis of PCa was 61.5 years (range: 44-81). The median follow-up period was 29 months (range: 0-186 months) during which 18 (17.3%) men were LTFU and 48 (46%) remained on surveillance. Men underwent a median of 7 (1-21) serum PSA measurements and an average of 2 prostate biopsies (1-5). In total, 22 (20.6%) men had definitive treatment with the median time from diagnosis to active treatment being 26 (range: 2-87) months. Radiation therapy was more common than radical prostatectomy (12.5% vs. 7.7%). There was 1 PCa-related death and 3 noncancer deaths. Initial adherence to AS was poor; however, men committed to AS initially were ultimately more compliant over time.


AS for low-risk PCa is challenging among a vulnerable population receiving care in a safety-net hospital, as rates of LTFU were high. Our findings suggest the need for AS support programs to improve adherence and follow-up among vulnerable and underserved populations.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View