Gleason grading and prognostic factors in carcinoma of the prostate

Mod Pathol. 2004 Mar;17(3):292-306. doi: 10.1038/modpathol.3800054.


Gleason grade of adenocarcinoma of the prostate is an established prognostic indicator that has stood the test of time. The Gleason grading method was devised in the 1960s and 1970s by Dr Donald F Gleason and members of the Veterans Administration Cooperative Urological Research Group. This grading system is based entirely on the histologic pattern of arrangement of carcinoma cells in H&E-stained sections. Five basic grade patterns are used to generate a histologic score, which can range from 2 to 10. These patterns are illustrated in a standard drawing that can be employed as a guide for recognition of the specific Gleason grades. Increasing Gleason grade is directly related to a number of histopathologic end points, including tumor size, margin status, and pathologic stage. Indeed, models have been developed that allow for pretreatment prediction of pathologic stage based upon needle biopsy Gleason grade, total serum prostate-specific antigen level, and clinical stage. Gleason grade has been linked to a number of clinical end points, including clinical stage, progression to metastatic disease, and survival. Gleason grade is often incorporated into nomograms used to predict response to a specific therapy, such as radiotherapy or surgery. Needle biopsy Gleason grade is routinely used to plan patient management and is also often one of the criteria for eligibility for clinical trials testing new therapies. Gleason grade should be routinely reported for adenocarcinoma of the prostate in all types of tissue samples. Experimental approaches that could be of importance in the future include determination of percentage of high-grade Gleason pattern 4 or 5, and utilization of markers discovered by gene expression profiling or by genetic testing for DNA abnormalities. Such markers would be of prognostic usefulness if they provided added value beyond the established indicators of Gleason grade, serum prostate-specific antigen, and stage. Currently, established prognostic factors for prostatic carcinoma recommended for routine reporting are TNM stage, surgical margin status, serum prostate-specific antigen, and Gleason grade.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / blood
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prognosis
  • Prostate / pathology*
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / blood
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / blood
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology*


  • Prostate-Specific Antigen