Search for residual prostate cancer on pT0 radical prostatectomy after positive biopsy

Roberta Mazzucchelli, Francesca Barbisan, Adriano Tagliabracci, Antonio Lopez-Beltran, Liang Cheng, Marina Scarpelli, Rodolfo Montironi

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Reported incidence of no residual prostate cancer (i.e. pathological stage pT0) on radical prostatectomy ranges from 0.07 to 4.2%. The incidence is higher after neoadjuvant endocrine treatment. The aim of this study was to search for residual cancer on radical prostatectomy (RP) specimens when an initial sampling failed to find the cancer in patients with positive biopsy. Our database of 1,328 consecutive patients whose biopsies and RP specimen were both examined at the Polytechnic University-United Hospitals of the Marche Region between March 1995 and June 2006 was reviewed. The radical prostatectomies were grossly completely sampled and examined with the whole mount technique. We identified eight patients (i.e. 0.6%; three untreated and five hormonally treated preoperatively, i.e. 0.3 and 0.8%, respectively, of the total number of RPs included in the study) with positive biopsy and with no residual cancer in the initial routine histological examination of the RP. The RP of this group of eight was subjected to additional sectioning and evaluation of the paraffin blocks of the prostatectomy, also after block-flipping, immunostaining with an antibody against CAM 5.2, p63, PSA, and alpha-methylacyl-CoA racemase, and DNA specimen identity analysis. There were no cases with a false positive biopsy diagnosis, and cancer was not overlooked or missed in the initial routine histological examination of any of the 8 pT0 RPs. A minute focus of cancer (the diameter was always below 2.0 mm) was found on the additional sections in five. In particular, cancer was found after block-flipping in one of them. In an additional case, cancer was eventually discovered after immunostaining tissue sections for cytokeratin CAM 5.2, for p63 and PSA. In the remaining two cases (one untreated and the other hormonally treated), cancer was not found (0.15% of the 1,328 RPs included in the study); the review of the description of the macroscopic appearance of the RP and of its slides revealed that part of the peripheral zone corresponding to the site of the positive biopsy was missing, i.e. not removed from the patient at the time of the operation at least in one of the two. DNA specimen analysis confirmed the identity of the biopsy and prostatectomy in both. An extensive search for residual cancer reduces the number of pT0 RPs after a positive biopsy from 0.6 to 0.15%. It is recommended to have the needle biopsy reviewed, carefully look again at the radical prostatectomy, do deeper sections and then flip certain paraffin blocks. In addition, atypical foci should be stained for basal cell markers and often AMACR, especially in hormone-treated cases. If a block is missing part of the peripheral zone (capsular incision), this should be commented on. DNA analysis for tissue identity should be performed when the other steps have been taken without finding cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)371-378
Number of pages8
JournalVirchows Archiv
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2007


  • Prostate cancer
  • Residual prostate cancer
  • Vanishing cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

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    Mazzucchelli, R., Barbisan, F., Tagliabracci, A., Lopez-Beltran, A., Cheng, L., Scarpelli, M., & Montironi, R. (2007). Search for residual prostate cancer on pT0 radical prostatectomy after positive biopsy. Virchows Archiv, 450(4), 371-378.