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Prostate cancer: Pathologic stage T3 disease or positive surgical margins following radical prostatectomy

John F Ward, MD, FACS
Nicholas Vogelzang, MD
Brian Davis, MD, PhD
Section Editors
Jerome P Richie, MD, FACS
W Robert Lee, MD, MS, MEd
Deputy Editor
Michael E Ross, MD


Prostate cancer is increasingly diagnosed in younger men and at an earlier disease stage when the tumor is confined to the prostate [1,2]. Men who are managed with radical prostatectomy are staged pathologically based upon pathologic examination of the resection specimen; some will have histopathologic extension beyond the prostate (pT3), positive margins upon examination of the surgical specimen (R1), or microscopic lymph node involvement (table 1 and table 2).

The management of patients with pathologic T3 disease, positive surgical margins, or microscopic lymph node involvement following radical prostatectomy will be reviewed here.

The management of patients with lymph node involvement identified at radical prostatectomy is discussed elsewhere. (See "Initial management of regionally localized intermediate-, high-, and very high-risk prostate cancer", section on 'Lymph node involvement'.)


The American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC)/Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) system is used to stage newly diagnosed prostate cancer (table 1 and table 2). This system incorporates the anatomic extent of disease, including the primary tumor (T), regional lymph nodes (N), distant metastases (M), and margin status (R). In addition, the baseline serum prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and histologic grade group (based upon the Gleason score) are incorporated to divide patients into prognostic stage groupings (table 3) [3]. Imaging findings are not incorporated into pathologic staging. (See "Initial staging and evaluation of men with newly diagnosed prostate cancer", section on 'Clinical versus pathologic staging'.)

The pretreatment evaluation provides the information for the clinical ("c") stage, which forms the basis for the initial treatment decisions, along with patient age, overall medical condition, and the presence or absence of symptoms. For patients whose initial treatment includes radical prostatectomy, additional information is obtained from the histopathologic examination of the prostatectomy specimen, and this forms the basis for the pathologic ("p") stage.

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: May 04, 2017.
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