Background. Because of public awareness and screening, the incidence of clinically localized prostate cancer has increased dramatically in the last 15 years. The Department of Defense Center for Prostate Disease Research (CPDR) was established by the US Congress in 1991 to study prostate cancer in the US military health care system. A key component of CPDR is a multicenter prospective and retrospective prostate research database that collects comprehensive standardized data on all consenting patients. To verify and document changes in the epidemiology of men electing radical prostatectomy (RP) as primary treatment for their localized prostate cancer, we undertook an analysis of such cases when the PSA screening test became widely available and used. Methods. The CPDR database consists of standardized data collection forms for each episode of care completed prospectively, and in some cases, retrospectively, on men with prostate cancer and those undergoing a prostate biopsy for presumed cancer at participating medical centers. In July 2001, a query of all RPs performed between January 1, 1991, and December 31, 2000, was conducted, revealing 3631 cases for analysis from 9 hospital sites. These cases were analyzed over time (calendar year), and changes in the characteristics of the patients, disease severity, and surgical results were compared. Results. There was a significant shift to younger men undergoing RP with the median age declining to 62.3 years old by 2000, and more than 40% of the men were less than 60 years old. There was an increase in African-Americans undergoing RP and a large increase in clinical stage T1 disease candidates of both races representing 56.5% of men by 2000. There was a large increase in patients having pretreatment PSA levels between 4 and 10 ng/mL (59.2% by 2000). Retropubic approach was predominant (over 80%) and was associated with a much lower blood loss by 2000 (approximately 800 mL). There was an increase in use of nerve-spacing procedures, and operative time declined significantly to a median of 3.5 hours by 2000. Finally, there was a marked surgical stage migration with a higher proportion of men with organ-confined disease and negative surgical margins; by 2000, 63.4% had pT2 disease. The early outcomes improved with a 1-year disease-free survival in excess of 93%. Conclusions. RP is being performed more commonly on younger men with earlier stage disease in the PSA era. The operation is now performed more rapidly with less blood loss, and the surgical pathology outcome end points and early disease-free survival are improved. These results portend well for improved long-term outcomes of surgical therapy.
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