Diagnosis of prostate cancer. Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • The contemporary challenge of prostate cancer diagnosis has been changed in the past decade from the endeavor to increase detection to that of detecting only those tumors that are clinically significant. Better interpretation of the role of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and its kinetics as a diagnostic tool, the adoption of extended prostate biopsy schemes, and perhaps implementation of new transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) technologies promote the achievement of this clinical mission. This chapter reviews these issues as well as the change in practice of patient preparation for TRUS-biopsy and analgesia during it, the role of repeat and saturation prostate biopsies, and the interpretation of an incidental prostate cancer finding. Currently, the lifetime risk of a diagnosis of prostate cancer for North American men is 16%, compared to the lifetime risk of death from prostate cancer, which is 3% (Carter 2004). The advent of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening and transrectal ultrasonography (TRUS) has significantly impacted the detection of prostate cancer over the last 20 years. The mean age at diagnosis has decreased (Hankey et al. 1999; Stamey et al. 2004) and the most common stage at diagnosis is now localized disease (Newcomer et al. 1997; Stamey et al. 2004). The goal of prostate cancer screening is to detect only those men at risk for death from the disease at an early curable phase. The ambiguous natural history of this most common malignancy in men, being latent with questionable life-threatening potential in a large number of cases on the one hand, with only a relatively small number (though not negligible) of highly malignant cases on the other, propels many doubts about whether this is possible. This was famously phrased more than 20 years ago by Whitmore who asked: "Is cure possible for those in whom it is necessary; and is it necessary for those in whom it is possible?" This is probably even more relevant nowadays. During the past decade two factors influenced significantly the increased detection rate of prostate cancer in general and that of clinically insignificant prostate cancers in particular: the widespread use of serum PSA as a screening tool to a large extent and to a lesser though significant extent the application of extended multiple core biopsy schemes (Master et al. 2005). In fact, 75% of men in the United States aged 50 years and older have been screened with the PSA test (Sirovich et al. 2003). Outside of the screening context, which is dealt with in depth in Chap. 5, clinical suspicion of prostate cancer is raised usually by abnormal digital rectal examination (DRE) and/or by abnormal levels of serum PSA. Final diagnosis is achieved only based on positive prostate biopsies.

publication date

  • 2007