Atypia in nonneoplastic prostate glands after radiotherapy for prostate cancer: Duration of atypia and relation to type of radiotherapy

Cristina Magi-Galluzzi, Harriete Sanderson, Jonathan I. Epstein

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38 Scopus citations


It is unknown how long postradiation atypia of benign prostate glands persists and whether the type of radiation is a factor. Forty-four cases consisting of 37 needle biopsies and 7 transurethral resections of the prostate seen in consultation (January 1997 to September 2000) were studied. In two men (5%), the cases were initially sent without a history of radiotherapy. Thirteen patients had minimal cancer (one core) with the remaining showing no residual tumor. Twenty patients were treated with interstitial radiotherapy (brachytherapy) (IRT), 17 with external beam radiation (XRT), and 7 with a combination of both (CT). The time interval between the treatment and tissue sampling ranged from 8 to 72 months (mean 3 months). Slides were reviewed blindly to the type of radiation and the time interval. Radiation-induced atypia in nonneoplastic glands, stromal fibrosis, and vascular changes was scored separately 0-3, with 0 showing no radiation injury and grade 3 showing prominent nuclear atypia, stromal fibrosis, and vascular hyalinization. We derived a combined score for the epithelial atypia from 0 to 300 (% of glands x grade) for each biopsy. For each case, an overall grade from 0 to 3 was given separately for the stromal and vascular changes. Cases were divided into three groups based on time between treatment and biopsy: <24 months (n = 14), between 24 and 48 months (n = 19), and >48 months (n = 11). Because the scores for epithelial atypia with IRT and CT were the same, we combined them into one group. There was more atypia in cases treated with IRT/CT (mean score 190) than XRT (mean score 105) (p <0.00001). There was also a greater degree of stromal fibrosis with IRT/CT than XRT (p <0.04). There was no correlation between the type of treatment and the effect on vessels. There was no change over time in epithelial atypia in men treated with IRT/CT. With XRT, there was less epithelial atypia in cases biopsied >48 months after treatment (mean score 57) compared with those with a shorter interval between biopsy and treatment (mean score 132) (p = 0.02). Radiation atypia in benign prostate glands may persist for a long time after the initial treatment, resulting in a significant pitfall in evaluating prostate biopsies. Prominent radiation effect (100% of the glands showing grade 2 and 3 atypia) was detected up to 72 months in one of the patients treated with IRT. In some cases, the clinician may not be aware of a prior remote history of radiation or does not relay this history to the pathologist. The pathologist must recognize radiation atypia without relying on the clinician to provide this history. The type of radiation therapy (IRT/CT vs XRT) is a major factor in the degree and duration of postradiation epithelial atypia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)206-212
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgical Pathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2003


  • Brachytherapy
  • External beam radiation
  • Postradiation atypia
  • Prostate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Surgery
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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