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Ann Urol (Paris). 2004 Oct;38(5):207-24.

[Prostate cancer: Diagnosis and staging].

[Article in French]

Author information

  • 1Service d'urologie, Centre hospitalier universitaire de Brest, hôpital de la Cavale Blanche, boulevard Tanguy-Prigent, 29609 Brest, France. georges.fournier@chu-brest.fr


The discovery and the use of serum prostate specific antigen (PSA) has considerably improved the diagnosis of prostate cancer during the past 20 years. Before PSA era, early diagnosis was only based on the digital rectal examination (DRE) of which the Limitations have been evidenced; over half of the tumours diagnosed by such means had already spread out of the prostate and were incurable. Assessment of serum PSA has allowed the diagnosis to be made at an earlier stage of the disease, curable by current treatments. Whichever the diagnostic tools, transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) prostatic biopsies remain necessary for diagnosis ascertainment, taking into account the low specificity of PSA assessment. The feasibility of a diagnosis at an early and curable stage of the disease has logically resulted in screening procedures aimed at reducing the high mortality related to prostate cancer. The numerous publications on prostate cancer screening provide precise information on the accuracy of available diagnostic means (PSA, DRE, TRUS, combined PSA and DRE), on the characteristics of screened tumours (stage and differentiation), and also on the population of men likely to benefit from the screening (age at beginning and end of the screening, frequency of PSA testing, identification of the men with ethnic and/or genetic predisposition). In those early diagnosed prostate cancers, the assessment of loco-regional cancer extension (extracapsular and/or, microscopic nodal involvement), remains unsatisfactory because no imaging technique (ultrasonography, CT scan, MRI,...) allows visualising the tumour itself or microscopic metastases. Nevertheless, the combination of multiple parameters such as DRE data, PSA level, biopsy data and tumour differentiation helps approaching with an increasing precision (nomograms) the true pathologic stage of the disease. Such advances allow distinguishing, among the very heterogeneous group of prostate cancers, tumours that differ from one to another in terms of disease stage, progression and prognosis, which is helpful for the determination of an adapted therapeutic strategy.

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