Questioning the 10-Year Life Expectancy Rule for High-Grade Prostate Cancer

Comparative Effectiveness of Aggressive Vs Nonaggressive Treatment of High-Grade Disease in Older Men with Differing Comorbid Disease Burdens

Published in: Urology, v. 93, July 2016, p. 68-76

Posted on on June 30, 2016

by T. J. Daskivich, Julie Lai, Andrew W. Dick, Claude Messan Setodji, Janet M. Hanley, Mark Litwin, Christopher S. Saigal

Read More

Access further information on this document at Urology

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

Research Question

  1. Should older men with high-grade clinically localized prostate cancer pursue aggressive treatment?


To determine if the 10-year rule should apply to men with high-grade, clinically localized prostate cancer, we characterized the survival benefits of aggressive (surgery, radiation, brachytherapy) over nonaggressive treatment (watchful waiting, active surveillance) among older men with differing comorbidity at diagnosis.


We sampled 44,521 men older than 65 with cT1-2, poorly differentiated prostate cancer diagnosed in 1991–2007 from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results-Medicare database. We used propensity-adjusted, competing-risks regression to calculate 5- and 10-year cancer mortality among those treated aggressively and nonaggressively across comorbidity subgroups. We determined 5- and 10-year absolute risk reduction in cancer mortality and numbers needed to treat to prevent one cancer death at 10 years.


In propensity-adjusted, competing-risks regression analysis, aggressive treatment was associated with significantly lower risk of cancer mortality for those with Charlson scores of 0 (sub-hazard ratio (SHR) 0.43, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.39-0.47), 1 (SHR 0.48, 95% CI 0.40-0.58), and 2 (SHR 0.46, 95% CI 0.34-0.62) but not 3+ (SHR 0.68, 95% CI 0.44-1.07). Absolute reductions in cancer mortality between those treated aggressively and nonaggressively were 7%, 5.5%, 6.9%, and 2.5% at 5 years, and 11.3%, 7.9%, 8.6%, and 2.8% at 10 years for men with Charlson scores of 0, 1, 2, and 3+ , respectively; numbers needed to treat to prevent 1 cancer death at 10 years were 9, 13, 12, and 36 men.


The 10-year rule may not apply to men with high-grade, clinically localized disease. Older men with Charlson scores ≤2 should consider aggressive treatment of such disease due to its substantial short-term cancer survival benefits.

Key Findings

  • Some men with high-risk prostate cancer benefit from aggressive treatment such as surgery, radiation, and brachytherapy.
  • Sound clinical judgment, thoughtful patient selection, and skillful surgical technique maximize treatment benefits.


  • Older men with high-grade prostate cancer should consider aggressive treatment due to its substantial short-term cancer survival benefits.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.