Purpose: We evaluated the reproducibility of Gleason grading as relevant to the clinical treatment of men on active surveillance. Materials and Methods: Three sets of digital images of prostatic adenocarcinoma in biopsies were reviewed and assigned Gleason scores by a total of 11 pathologists from 7 institutions. Interobserver and intra-observer reproducibility were assessed for assignment of the highest Gleason pattern (3 vs 4 or higher). We also identified 97 consecutive patients on active surveillance. Prostate biopsy glass slides from 82 of the patients were available for re-review and the frequency of carcinoma requiring the distinction of tangentially sectioned Gleason pattern 3 from 4 was determined. Results: Interobserver reproducibility for classic Gleason patterns was substantial (Light's κ 0.76). Interobserver reproducibility for the histological distinction of tangentially sectioned Gleason pattern 3 from Gleason pattern 4 was only fair (Light's κ 0.27). Intra-observer reproducibility ranged from 65% to 100% (mean 81.5%). Of the 82 patients on active surveillance 61 had carcinoma and 15 (24.5%) had a set of biopsies with at least 1 focus in which the distinction between tangentially sectioned Gleason pattern 3 and poorly formed pattern 4 glands had to be considered. Conclusions: The reproducibility of grading classic Gleason patterns is high. However, variability in grading occurred when distinguishing between tangentially sectioned pattern 3 glands and the poorly formed gland subset of pattern 4. Developing universally accepted histological and/or molecular criteria to distinguish these patterns and subsequently characterizing their natural history would be useful when treating patients on active surveillance.
- reproducibility of results
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