An evaluation of the decreasing incidence of positive surgical margins in a large retropubic prostatectomy series

Misop Han, Alan W. Partin, David Y. Chan, Patrick C. Walsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

125 Scopus citations


Purpose: Positive surgical margins adversely affect biochemical recurrence-free survival after radical retropubic prostatectomy (RRP) for prostate cancer. We retrospectively reviewed a large series of men who underwent RRP at a single academic university urology program to define the change in the incidence of organ confined (OC) disease and positive surgical margin (SM+) during the last 2 decades. Materials and Methods: Between 1982 and 2001, 9,035 men underwent RRP for clinically localized prostate cancer (T1 to T3a) at a single institution. We compared the incidences of OC disease and SM+ in this population. Results: An increasing proportion of men presented with OC disease over time. The incidence of SM+ in the overall RRP population decreased dramatically over time. However, in men with nonorgan confined disease (pT3), the proportion with SM+ was stable and consistently elevated (22.7% to 27.8%), after the initial decrease from the early 1980s (53%). Conclusions: Widespread early detection programs for prostate cancer resulted in a downward stage migration in men presenting with clinically localized prostate cancer at our institution during the last 2 decades. The decrease in the percentage of men with SM+ was due to the increasing number of men with organ confined disease. These results imply that the decrease in surgical margin rates in the overall RRP population is most likely due to stage migration and improved patient selection, rather than major improvements in surgical technique. The stable percentage of SM+ among men with pT3 disease dictates the need for continued evaluation of surgical technique and the need for effective adjuvant therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-26
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Urology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2004


  • Neoplasm staging
  • Prostatectomy
  • Prostatic neoplasms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology


Dive into the research topics of 'An evaluation of the decreasing incidence of positive surgical margins in a large retropubic prostatectomy series'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this