Prostate carcinoma presentation, diagnosis, and staging: an update form the National Cancer Data Base

Cancer. 2003 Sep 15;98(6):1169-78. doi: 10.1002/cncr.11635.


Background: Based on the 1998 Patient Care Evaluation (PCE) from the American College of Surgeons National Cancer Data Base (NCDB), the authors described contemporary nationwide patterns of prostate carcinoma presentation, diagnosis, and staging.

Methods: The authors reviewed 54,212 cases from the 1998 PCE. Demographics, presenting signs and symptoms, tumor characteristics, prostate biopsy techniques, and use of staging modalities were evaluated.

Results: The mean age of patients in the sample was 68 years. Among patients with available data, 87.5% had a prostate specific antigen (PSA) level of 4 ng/mL or higher, 83.1% had American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) Stage I-II lesions, 80.2% had well or moderately differentiated cancers, and 68.7% of newly diagnosed patients were asymptomatic. Compared with symptomatic patients, asymptomatic patients were more likely to have localized disease (84.6% vs. 78.2%, P < 0.01) and well or moderately differentiated tumors (82.2% vs. 74.6%, P < 0.01). Transrectal ultrasound-guided prostate biopsy was the most common method of tissue confirmation (45.4%). Radionuclide bone scintigraphy was the most frequently employed staging modality (48.7%). Use of various staging evaluations was more frequent among patients at increased risk for disseminated disease (PSA > 10 ng/mL and/or high-grade tumors) versus patients at lower risk (PSA < or = 10 and low to moderate-grade tumors) for metastatic disease (P < 0.005).

Conclusions: Most newly diagnosed patients with prostate carcinoma are asymptomatic and have moderately differentiated and organ-confined disease. Compared with symptomatic patients, tumors in asymptomatic men are associated with lower pretreatment PSA levels, AJCC stage, and tumor grade. Selective use of staging evaluations, based on risk of metastatic disease, may be relatively uncommon. The NCDB remains a unique and rich source of novel patient care information and serves as a national point of reference for prostate carcinoma presentation, diagnosis, and staging.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biopsy / methods
  • Databases as Topic
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging / methods
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / analysis
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • United States


  • Prostate-Specific Antigen