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J Urol. 2000 Aug;164(2):388-92.

A prospective randomized trial comparing 6 versus 12 prostate biopsy cores: impact on cancer detection.

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  • 1Division of Urology, Department of Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.



Several studies suggest that sextant transrectal ultrasound guided biopsy of the prostate provides insufficient material to detect all clinically important prostate cancer, and obtaining more biopsy cores may improve the cancer detection rate. We performed a prospective randomized trial comparing 6 to 12 prostate biopsy cores to determine the impact on the cancer detection rate.


We prospectively randomized 244 men, including 71 (29%) black men, with a mean age plus or minus standard deviation of 65 +/- 8 years to undergo biopsy with 6 or 12 peripheral zone tissue cores. In our study subjects serum total prostate specific antigen (PSA) was between 2.5 and 20 ng./ml., and/or digital rectal examination was suspicious for cancer. All men completed a self-administered pre-biopsy and 2 post-biopsy questionnaires at 2 and 4 weeks. Cancer detection rates were compared in the groups and correlated with race, biopsy history, digital rectal examination findings, total PSA, transrectal ultrasound volume and PSA density, as determined by the formula, total PSA/transrectal ultrasound volume.


The cancer detection rate in the 6 and 12 core groups was almost identical (26% and 27%, p = 0.9). There was no significant difference in cancer detection in the 2 trial arms with respect to subject race, biopsy history, digital rectal examination findings, total PSA, transrectal ultrasound volume or PSA density. However, our study did not have the statistical power to rule out small differences.


The overall cancer detection rate is not materially increased by 12 core, peripheral zone biopsy in men in whom prostate cancer was mainly detected by screening.

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