Standard versus age-specific prostate specific antigen reference ranges among men with clinically localized prostate cancer: A pathological analysis

Alan W. Partin, Stuart R. Criley, Eric N.P. Subong, Horst Zincke, Patrick C. Walsh, Joseph E. Oesterling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: Age-specific prostate specific antigen (PSA) reference ranges have been suggested to account for the age-dependent nature of the serum PSA concentration. It has been hypothesized that reference ranges of 0 to 2.5 ng./ml. serum PSA (40 to 49 years), 0 to 3.5 ng./ml. (50 to 59 years), 0 to 4.5 ng./ml. (60 to 69 years) and 0 to 6.5 ng./ml. (70 to 79 years) would detect fewer (potentially insignificant) prostate cancers in older men and more (potentially curable) cancers in younger men. Materials and Methods: To investigate the pathological stage of tumors that would be affected by the use of age-specific PSA reference ranges, we reviewed the medical records for 4,597 men with clinically localized (stage T1c, T2 or T3a) prostate cancer, with an average age of 62 ± 7 years (range 38 to 76), who underwent radical prostatectomy between 1984 and 1994 at our institutions. Favorable pathological results were defined as organ-confined disease or capsular perforation with a Gleason score of less than 7, and unfavorable pathological results were defined as capsular perforation with a Gleason score of 7 or more, seminal vesicle invasion or lymph node involvement. Results: Overall, 18% of the men had PSA levels less than the standard PSA reference range (4.0 ng./ml.) compared to 22% when using the age-specific ranges. There were 74 more cancers detected in men younger than 60 years with the use of age- specific ranges, of which 81% had favorable pathological results. Among the men 60 years or older, 191 of 252 cancers (76%) not detected by using age- specific ranges were of favorable pathological status. Of those cancers not detected in older men with the age-specific ranges less than 3% were also stage T1c and 95% of these undetected T1c cancers were of favorable pathological status. Age-specific PSA reference ranges increased the potential for detection of prostate cancer by 18% in the younger men and decreased the detection by 22% in the older men. Conclusions: Among these men with clinically localized prostate cancer, age-specific PSA reference ranges increased the detection of more potentially curable tumors in young men and decreased the detection of less advanced tumors in the older men compared to the standard reference range of 4.0 ng./ml. Among older men with nonpalpable (stage T1c) tumors age-specific PSA reference ranges would have detected fewer tumors. However, 95% of these 'missed' tumors would have had favorable pathological findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1336-1339
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Urology
Volume155
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1996
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • prostate-specific antigen
  • prostatic neoplasms
  • reference values

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology

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