Predictors of extracapsular extension and its radial distance in prostate cancer: implications for prostate IMRT, brachytherapy, and surgery

Cancer J. Nov-Dec 2003;9(6):454-60. doi: 10.1097/00130404-200311000-00004.


Purpose: Tightly constricted isodose lines are generated using brachytherapy or intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) treatment planning systems for prostate cancer. Definition of margins that encompass subclinical disease extension is important to maximize dose escalation while attemptingto adhere to normal tissue dose tolerances. In this study, we attempted to find predictors of extracapsular extension (ECE) and its radial distance.

Materials and methods: Pathological assessment of ECE and its radial distance was performed on 712 radical prostatectomy specimens. Preoperative data (initial prostate-specific antigen, clinical stage, ultrasound volume, and biopsy Gleason score) were evaluated for their ability to predict the presence of ECE and its radial distance.

Results: Measurable disease was noted outside the prostatic capsule in 185 of 712 (26.0%) specimens. All preoperative parameters except ultrasound volume were able to predict the presence of ECE. However, none of them was predictive of the radial ECE distance. In this group, the median and the range of the maximum depth of invasion (radial extension from the capsule) were 2.00 and 0.5-12.00 mm, respectively. The mean radial distance from the capsule was 2.93 mm, SD +/- 2.286 mm. All subgroups had some patients with radial extension ranging from 0-2 mm, 2-5 mm, to > 5 mm. Only patients with a prostate-specific antigen of 0-4 ng/mL had no extension > 5 mm.

Conclusions: This is the largest series in the literature thus far that quantitatively assesses radial extracapsular extension. Coverage of subclinical disease must be addressed carefully before successful implementation of intensity-modulated radiation therapy, brachytherapy, or prostatectomy in order to avoid geographical miss.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brachytherapy* / methods
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Prognosis
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / analysis
  • Prostatectomy
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / surgery
  • Radiotherapy, Adjuvant


  • Prostate-Specific Antigen