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J Urol. 2001 Dec;166(6):2181-4.

Does increased needle biopsy sampling of the prostate detect a higher number of potentially insignificant tumors?

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Department of Pathology, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and James Buchannan Brady Urological Institute, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland 21231, USA.



Several studies have documented that increased biopsy sampling, that is 6 versus 12 biopsy cores, can detect more prostate cancer. It is unknown whether increased sampling of the prostate will detect a higher number of potentially insignificant tumors.


We searched the surgical pathology files at The Johns Hopkins Hospital for patients in whom prostate needle biopsy was performed by a single urologist between April 1993 and April 2000, and subsequently underwent radical prostatectomy. Patients who underwent radical prostatectomy and had 8 core biopsies or less between March 1994 and August 1999 were also studied. Clinically significant tumors were defined as those with volume greater than 0.5 cc, Gleason score 7 or greater or nonorgan confined disease.


A total of 297 patients with a mean age of 60 years (range 36 to 75) were evaluated. Group 1 consisted of 107 men with 8 core biopsies or less, including 51 with 6, and group 2 comprised 190 men with 9 cores or greater, including 145 with 12. The 2 groups were equal in regard to prostate specific antigen, age, digital rectal examination and transrectal ultrasound gland volume at biopsy. The only difference between the groups was a higher number of cores with cancer in group 2 (mean 2.8 versus 2.1, p = 0.0006). Of the patients who underwent radical prostatectomy 59.6% had Gleason score 6 or less, 26.3% 3+4, 6.7% 4+3 and 7.4% 8 to 9. There were 12.4% of patients with positive margins, 36.4% extraprostatic extension, and 5.4% seminal vesicle invasion and/or lymph node metastasis. Tumor volumes averaged 1.1 cc (range 0.01 to 10.7) and 60.9% of tumors were greater than 0.5 cc. Clinically significant tumors were seen in 77.4% of patients in group 1 and 74.6% in group 2. There was no significant difference in Gleason score, margin status, tumor volume, seminal vesicle invasion, or lymph node metastasis between groups 1 and 2, or in a subset analysis of men with 6 versus 12 core biopsies. However, patients in whom cancer was diagnosed with 9 core biopsies or greater were more likely to have organ confined disease (p = 0.02).


Although increased sampling of the prostate does not increase the detection of potentially insignificant tumors, it does appear to detect earlier stage cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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