Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program



Quantitative Health Sciences

First Thesis Advisor

John E. Ware, Jr., PhD


Prostatic Neoplasms, Comorbidity, Logistic Models, Prognosis, Mortality, Survival Analysis, Outcome Assessment (Health Care)


Dissertations, UMMS; Prostatic Neoplasms; Comorbidity; Logistic Models; Prognosis; Mortality; Survival Analysis; Outcome Assessment (Health Care)


Background: Overtreatment of localized prostate cancer (PCa) is a concern as many men die of other causes prior to experiencing a treatment benefit. This dissertation characterizes the need for assessing other cause mortality (OCM) risk in older men with PCa and informs efforts to identify patients most likely to benefit from definitive PCa treatment.

Methods: Using the linked Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results-Medicare Health Outcomes Survey database, 2,931 men (mean age=75) newly diagnosed with clinical stage T1a-T3a PCa from 1998-2009 were identified. Survival analysis methods were used to compare observed 10-year OCM by primary treatment type. Age and health factors predictive of primary treatment type were assessed with multinomial logistic regression. Predicted mortality estimates from Social Security life tables (recommended for life expectancy evaluation) and two OCM risk estimation tools were compared to observed rates. An improved OCM prediction model was developed fitting Fine and Gray competing risks models for 10-year OCM with age, sociodemographic, comorbidity, activities of daily living, and patient-reported health data as predictors. The tools’ ability to discriminate between patients who died and those who did not was evaluated with Harrell’s c-index (range 0.5-1), which also guided new model selection.

Results: Fifty-four percent of older men with localized PCa underwent radiotherapy while 13% underwent prostatectomy. Twenty-three percent of those treated with radiotherapy and 12% of those undergoing prostatectomy experienced OCM within 10 years of treatment and thus were considered overtreated. Health factors indicative of a shorter life expectancy (increased comorbidity, worse physical health, smoking) had little to no association with radiotherapy assignment but were significantly related to reductions in the likelihood of undergoing prostatectomy. Social Security life tables overestimated mortality risk and discriminated poorly between men who died and those who did not over 10 years (c-index=0.59). Existing OCM risk estimation tools were less likely to overestimate OCM rates and had limited but improved discrimination (c-index=0.64). A risk model developed with self-reported age, Charlson comorbidity index score, overall health (excellent-good/fair/poor), smoking, and marital status predictors had improved discrimination (c-index=0.70).

Conclusions: Overtreatment of older men with PCa is primarily attributable to radiotherapy and may be reduced by pretreatment assessment of mortality-related health factors. This dissertation provides a prognostic model which utilizes a set of five self-reported characteristics that better identify patients likely to die of OCM within 10 years of diagnosis than age and comorbidity-based assessments alone.



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