Anatomic distribution of periprostatic adipose tissue: a mapping study of 100 radical prostatectomy specimens

Cancer. 2003 Apr 1;97(7):1639-43. doi: 10.1002/cncr.11231.


Background: Because the prostatic capsule is often indistinct, recognition of extraprostatic extension by carcinoma depends heavily on the identification of carcinoma cells in the periprostatic adipose tissue. However, the distribution of adipose tissue along the prostatic surfaces has not been studied extensively.

Methods: The authors analyzed the periprostatic adipose tissue in specimens from 100 patients treated with radical retropubic prostatectomy and bilateral pelvic lymphadenectomy for prostatecarcinoma. Each specimen was totally embedded and examined by the whole mount method. The presence or absence of adipose tissue on the anterior, posterior, right, and left surfaces of the prostate was determined and analyzed.

Results: Periprostatic adipose tissue was present on 48% of all prostatic surfaces examined. The distribution of periprostatic adipose tissue varied among the different surfaces of the prostate, with the anterior, posterior, right, and left surfaces showing 44%, 36%, 59%, and 57% adipose tissue, respectively. The amount of periprostatic adipose tissue was similar among specimens from operations performed by different surgeons (P = 0.72). However, nerve-sparing procedures resulted in less adipose tissue (46%) than non-nerve-sparing procedures (54%) (P = 0.01).

Conclusions: Less than half of the prostatic surfaces examined were covered by adipose tissue. The absence of adipose tissue over large areas of the prostatic surface, especially the posterior surface, makes the evaluation of extraprostatic extension difficult and unreliable. Further refinement of the prostate carcinoma staging system is needed.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / pathology*
  • Carcinoma / pathology*
  • Carcinoma / surgery
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prostatectomy
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / surgery
  • Tissue Embedding