Objective: To analyze trends in the clinical stage and pathologic outcome of patients with prostate cancer who underwent radical prostatectomy at a large referral practice during the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing era. Material and Methods: Between January 1987 and June 1995, 5,568 patients with prostate cancer (4,774 with clinically localized disease of stage T2c or less) underwent pelvic lymphadenectomy and radical retropubic prostatectomy at our institution. Patient age, preoperative serum PSA level, clinical stage, pathologic stage, Gleason score, and tumor ploidy were assessed. Outcome was based on clinical and PSA (increases in PSA level of 0.2 ng/mL or more) progression-free survival. Results: Patient age (65 to 63 years old; P<0.001) and serum PSA level (median, 8.4 to 6.8 ng/mL; P<0.001) decreased during the study period. The percentage of patients with clinical stage Tic prostate cancer increased from 2.1% in 1987 to 36.4% in 1995 (P<0.001), and clinical stage T3 cancer decreased from 25.3% to 6.5% (P<0.001). Nondiploid tumors decreased from 38.3% to 24.6% (P<0.001), and the proportion of patients with pathologically organ-confined disease increased from 54.9% to 74.3% (P<0.001). More cT1c than cT2 tumors were diploid (80% versus 72%; P<0.001), had a Gleason score of 7 or less (75% versus 65%; P<0.001), and were confined to the prostate (75% versus 57%; P<0.001). Five- year progression-free survival was 85% and 76% for patients with clinical stage T1c and T2, respectively (P<0.001). Conclusion: Since the advent of PSA testing, patients referred to our institution for radical prostatectomy have shown a significant migration to lower-stage, less-nondiploid, more often organ-confined prostate cancer at the time of initial assessment. Cancer- free survival associated with PSA-detected cancer (cT1c) is superior to that with palpable tumors (cT2). Whether these trends translate into improved long-term cancer-specific survival remains to be confirmed with longer follow-up.
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