Objectives. The delivery of thermotherapy, cryotherapy, and interstitial radiation with minimal morbidity is dependent on the preservation of the prostatic urethra. Our aim was to determine the distribution of the distance between the urethra and the nearest prostate cancer.Methods. We determined the location of cancer in 350 prostate cancers treated by radical prostatectomy between 1991 and 1993. Each pathologic specimen was totally embedded, serially sectioned, and whole mounted. For each prostate, the radial distance from the urethra to the nearest cancer was determined (urethral-cancer distance). The urethra-cancer distance was correlated with the clinical, pathologic, and laboratory factors. Univariate and multivariate associations with progression-free survival were determined.Results. The mean follow-up was 6.1 years. Ninety-three patients had biochemical, local, or systemic cancer recurrence. The mean ± SD distance from the urethra to the nearest cancer was 3 ± 3 mm (range 0 to 18). In 58 patients (17%), the cancer touched the urethra. A decreasing urethra-cancer distance was associated with increasing rates of cancer recurrence (P = 0.009). The urethra-cancer distance correlated with each of the following preoperative factors: preoperative prostate-specific antigen (r = -0.22, P <0.001), Gleason score in biopsy specimen (r = -0.13, P = 0.02), and percentage of Gleason score 4 or 5 in the biopsy specimen (r = -0.17, P = 0.008).Conclusions. The distance between the urethra and the nearest cancer was associated with prostate cancer outcome. Many patients have cancer close to the urethra. This finding may have implications for nonsurgical ablative therapies for prostate cancer. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Inc.
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