Objectives: Stage T1c carcinoma of the prostate is defined as a nonpalpable carcinoma (NPC-P) that is not visible by imaging and is identified by needle biopsy performed because of elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA) concentrations. The purpose of this study was to define the incidence of normal findings on transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) and/or endorectal coil magnetic resonance imaging (EMRI) among patients with NPC-P, as well as to investigate the value of differentiating patients with Stage T1c disease from all other patients with NPC-P.
Methods: The records of 2211 patients diagnosed with prostate carcinoma between 1988 and 1995 were reviewed to identify 291 men with NPC-P. TRUS and EMRI reports were analyzed with regard to the presence and laterality of hypoechoic nodules or low-signal areas reported on T2-weighted images, respectively. Ninety percent of patients (n = 262) had at least six prostate biopsies, 185 patients (64%) underwent both TRUS and EMRI, 224 (77%) had TRUS, and 251 (86%) had an EMRI study.
Results: Results were considered normal in 101 (47%) of 214 patients undergoing TRUS, in 58 (23%) of 249 undergoing EMRI, and in 22 (12%) of 185 undergoing both TRUS and EMRI. For the side of the prostate with positive biopsy results, correlation with imaging abnormalities was better for EMRI than for TRUS (39% versus 24%). There was no significant difference in mean PSA value, distribution of Gleason score, or unilateral versus bilateral positive biopsy results among patients with normal versus abnormal findings on both TRUS and EMRI.
Conclusions: (1) Only 12% of men with NPC-P have no TRUS or EMRI abnormalities, fulfilling the criteria for Stage T1c prostate carcinoma. (2) Those patients with Stage T1c disease do not differ from patients with NPC-P up-staged by TRUS or EMRI, with regard to pretreatment PSA levels, Gleason scores, and the probability of having bilateral rather than unilateral positive biopsy results. (3) The value of classifying patients with NPC-P into Stage T1c versus higher stages of prostate carcinoma on the basis of imaging should be questioned.