To determine the natural history of clinically understaged prostatic cancer patients who were followed without adjuvant therapy for at least 6 years after radical prostatectomy we reviewed the clinical courses of 21 patients (1 with clinical stage A and 20 with clinical stage B disease). All patients underwent radical retropubic prostatectomy and 9 had pathological stage C disease (6 with capsular penetration only and 3 with seminal vesicle invasion). A total of 12 patients had pathological stage D1 disease by virtue of positive nodes on permanent sections after frozen sections were read as negative. Among the patients with pathological stage C disease 67 per cent were free of recurrence 6 years after radical prostatectomy. Of the patients with seminal vesicle invasion 33 per cent had recurrence compared to 17 per cent of those with capsular penetration only. Among the 12 stage D1 cancer patients 75 per cent were free of recurrence at 6 years. In both groups patients who were followed beyond 7 years had a diminished survival free of tumor owing to late tumor recurrences. The results indicate that the intermediate survival rates free of tumor in patients with clinically understaged A or B prostatic cancer are remarkably good without adjuvant therapy. However, survival without recurrence appears to decrease after 7 years. All patients who failed treatment did so distantly; no patient failed with local recurrence alone. These results may be important in the evaluation of adjuvant therapy protocols currently under investigation for patients with clinically understaged prostate cancer.
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