Purpose: We retrospectively reviewed a large series of men with clinically localized prostate cancer who underwent surgery to define the extent of stage migration and its influence on biochemical recurrence in 3 different eras of prostate cancer management.
Materials and methods: A total of 2,370 men were treated with radical prostatectomy from 1982 to 1998. We analyzed the freedom from biochemical (prostate specific antigen) progression after radical prostatectomy. We compared the distribution of pathological stage by the year of surgery. We then compared the biochemical recurrence-free survival rate according to the different eras that reflect a change in prostate cancer management.
Results: There was a significant downward stage migration of prostate cancer and an increasing proportion of men who presented with organ confined disease in recent years. The actuarial biochemical recurrence-free rate was significantly different for patients who underwent surgery between 1982 and 1988, compared with those between 1989 and 1998 (p <0.001). These changes may have reflected the benefits of early detection with prostate specific antigen and digital rectal examination, better preoperative selection of patients for surgery as well as the effect of lead time.
Conclusions: Widespread early detection programs for prostate cancer resulted in downward stage migration in men presenting with prostate cancer at our institution during the last 18 years. Also, we have demonstrated a biochemical recurrence-free survival advantage, probably secondary to an improved therapeutic outcome as well as lead time bias, in men who underwent surgery between 1989 and 1998, compared with those between 1982 and 1988. When trying to compare the efficacy of different treatment modalities for prostate cancer, the era in which patients underwent therapy is an important factor to be considered.