OBJECTIVES: To characterize the effect of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) on the rate of diagnosis of well-differentiated (WD) prostate cancer (PCa) and PCa mortality. METHODS: All cases of PCa and rates of TURP at both Wilford Hall and Brooke Army Medical Centers between 1984 and 1995 were reviewed. Tumor grade was compared between prostate needle biopsy and TURP. The pattern of diagnosis was analyzed annually and for two time periods: pre-PSA (1984 to 1988) and post-PSA (1989 to 1995). RESULTS: The number of WD tumors fell by 50% over the period of study and was caused by a fall in number of TURPs as well as in WD tumors detected by TURP. PSA for early detection of PCa began in 1988, and within 5 years a more than 50% fall in the rate of metastatic disease was witnessed. These two events (PSA screening and fall in TURPs) led to an increase from 57% to 92% of tumors that were both clinically significant and potentially curable. CONCLUSIONS: These data help explain the fall in the rate of diagnosis of WD PCa. The resultant increase in the diagnosis of moderately and poorly differentiated PCa, coupled with the dramatic fall in the rate of diagnosis of metastatic PCa, may explain the reports of a fall in PCa mortality. If this observation is replicated in other populations, it may provide further impetus for a stronger recommendation for early detection with PSA and digital rectal examination.
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