Positive surgical margins with radical retropubic prostatectomy: anatomic site-specific pathologic analysis and impact on prognosis

Urology. 1999 Oct;54(4):682-8. doi: 10.1016/s0090-4295(99)00204-6.


Objectives: To correlate the extent and location of positive surgical margins after radical prostatectomy with disease progression.

Methods: Data on 495 patients who underwent radical prostatectomy by one surgeon were analyzed. All radical prostatectomy specimens were sectioned entirely using 2 to 3-mm step sections by one pathologist. One hundred fifty-one patients (30.5%) had one or more positive surgical margins and were subjected to further detailed analysis. Recurrence was defined as a serum prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level of 0.2 ng/mL and rising on at least two postoperative measurements.

Results: The mean follow-up was 25.3 months (range 3 to 73). The overall recurrence rate was 13.3%. Neoadjuvant hormonal treatment was given to 37 (25%) of those with a positive margin. Patients with positive surgical margins had a significantly higher incidence of recurrence compared with those with negative margins (27.8% versus 6.9%, P = 0.001). The recurrence rate for various locations was 29% apex/urethra, 30% posterior, 33% anterior, 36% lateral, 48% posterolateral, and 57% bladder neck. Time to recurrence was shorter in patients older than 70 years (P<0.055); with a preoperative PSA greater than 10 ng/mL (P<0.0001); with a biopsy Gleason score greater than 7 (P = 0.02); with a prostatectomy Gleason score greater than 7 (P<0.001); with seminal vesicle invasion (P = 0.0001); having more than 1 location of a positive margin (P = 0.002); or having a positive margin at the bladder neck (P = 0.0003) or the posterolateral surface of the prostate (P = 0.02) compared with other locations. Multivariate proportional hazards analyses indicated that age older than 70 (P = 0.005), a prostatectomy Gleason score of 7 (P = 0.015) or 8 to 10 (P = 0.003), and positive margin(s) at the bladder neck (P = 0.003) were independently associated with a shorter time to recurrence among patients with a positive margin.

Conclusions: In our study, among patients with positive surgical margins, those with multiple positive margins, or a margin involving the bladder neck or the posterolateral surface of the specimen carried a higher risk of progression. A positive margin at the bladder neck appears to be the most significant adverse prognostic indicator. This information may help in decisions regarding additional therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology*
  • Adenocarcinoma / surgery*
  • Disease Progression
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / epidemiology*
  • Prognosis
  • Prostatectomy / methods*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Time Factors