Frailty and survival among veterans treated with abiraterone or enzalutamide for metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer

Ekamjit S. Deol, Kristen M. Sanfilippo, Suhong Luo, Mark A. Fiala, Tanya Wildes, Hira Mian, Martin W. Schoen

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Introduction: Abiraterone and enzalutamide are treatments for metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC). Due to a lack of head-to-head trials, they are prescribed interchangeably. However, the drugs have different pharmacokinetics and thus may have differing efficacy and adverse effects influenced by patient functional status and comorbid diseases. Additionally, mCRPC mainly affects older adults and since the prevalence of frailty increases with age, frailty is an important patient factor to consider in personalizing drug selection. Materials and Methods: We conducted a retrospective observational study of US veterans treated with abiraterone or enzalutamide for mCRPC from September 2014 to June 2017. Frailty was assessed using the Veterans Affairs Frailty Index (VA-FI), which utilizes administrative codes to assign a standardized frailty score. Patients were categorized as frail if VA-FI scores were > 0.2. The primary outcome was difference in overall survival (OS) between the two treatment groups. Cox regression modeling and propensity score matching was used to compare between abiraterone and enzalutamide treatments. Results: We identified 5,822 veterans, 57% of whom were initially treated with abiraterone and 43% with enzalutamide. Frail patients (n = 2,314; 39.7%) were older, with a mean age of 76.1 versus 74.9 years in the non-frail group (n = 3,508; 60.3%, p < 0.001) and had shorter OS compared to non-frail patients regardless of treatment group (18.5 vs. 26.6 months, p < 0.001). Among non-frail patients there was no significant difference in OS between abiraterone and enzalutamide treatment (27.7 vs 26.1 months, p = 0.07). However, frail patients treated with enzalutamide versus abiraterone had improved OS (20.7 vs 17.2 months, p < 0.001). In a propensity score matched analysis of frail patients (n = 2,070), enzalutamide was associated with greater median OS (24.1 vs 20.9 months, p < 0.001). In patients with dementia, enzalutamide was associated with longer OS (19.4 vs. 16.6 months, p = 0.003). Discussion: In this study of 5822 US veterans with mCRPC, treatment with enzalutamide was associated with improved OS compared to abiraterone among frail veterans and veterans with dementia, but not among non-frail veterans. Future studies should evaluate interactions between frailty and cancer treatments to optimize selection of therapy among frail adults.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101520
JournalJournal of Geriatric Oncology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • Abiraterone
  • Androgen receptor axis-targeted drugs
  • Chemotherapy
  • Efficacy
  • Enzalutamide
  • Frailty
  • Older men
  • Prostate cancer
  • Veterans
  • mCRPC


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