We estimate the potential clinical significance of prostate cancers found at autopsy provided the individual had lived to the projected lifespan based on life expectancy tables.Materials and Methods
We used 3-dimensional computer models of 59 autopsy prostates that contained clinically undetected carcinoma to determine tumor volumes. Using doubling times of 2, 3, 4 and 6 years, carcinoma volumes at autopsy were extrapolated through patient projected lifespans. The carcinomas were then classified as clinically insignificant or significant according to Mayo Clinic criteria.Results
In 13 patients less than 60 years old, using doubling times of 2, 3, 4 and 6 years, clinically significant tumors were identified in 13 (100%), 10 (77%), 7 (54%) and 7 (54%), respectively. In 46 patients 60 years old or greater significant tumors were identified in 32 (70%), 22 (48%), 21 (46%) and 18 (39%), respectively. A statistical difference (p <0.0001) was found between the mean tumor volume (0.20 +/- 0.10 cc) of 43 organ confined carcinomas and the mean tumor volume (3.26 +/- 3.58 cc) of 16 extracapsular tumors. No capsule perforation was found in tumors with Gleason sums of 4 or less. However, capsule perforation was present in 8 of 31 tumors (25.8%) with Gleason sums of 5 or 6, and 8 of 11 tumors (72.7%) with Gleason scores of 7 or 8.Conclusions
Prostatic carcinomas that remain clinically insignificant throughout life are likely to have doubling times greater than 4 years. The subset of carcinomas that emerge as clinically significant are likely to have doubling times less than 3 years. Therefore, an accurate method to measure doubling time at diagnosis could, provide an objective indicator to guide clinical management.