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Updated Tool Now Available to Predict Prostate Cancer Spread


Prostate Cancer Image

Prostate cancer experts at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD, have developed an updated version of the Partin Tables, a tool to help men diagnosed with prostate cancer and their doctors to better assess their chance of a surgical cure. The updated tool is published in the British Journal of Urology International. This represents the third update of the data.

“The first thing most men want to know when they learn they have prostate cancer is their prognosis – whether it can be cured,” says Alan W. Partin, MD, PhD, professor and director of Urology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and creator of the Partin Tables. “The Partin Tables are a statistical model to show the probability that the cancer is confined to the prostate and therefore is likely to be cured with surgery.”

The model is based on an individual’s prostate specific antigen (PSA) level, Gleason score (a number from 2 to 10 that estimates the aggressiveness of tumors removed during a biopsy), and clinical stage (the extent to which a tumor can be felt during a digital exam).

“ We now have a better understanding of intermediate risk and see that more men now fall into that category, instead of the higher risk group.”

John B. Eifler, MD, the lead author of the article who worked with Partin on the revision, says the new Partin Tables show that certain categories of men who were previously not thought to have a good prognosis actually could be cured with surgery. “We now have a better understanding of intermediate risk and see that more men now fall into that category, instead of the higher risk group,” says Eifler.

For example, men with a Gleason score of 8 and above previously were not thought to be good candidates for surgery because of the likelihood that the cancer had spread. The new data show a higher probability of a cure with surgery even if a man’s Gleason score is 8. Scores of 9 and 10 are still considered high risk, indicating that the cancer likely has spread. The researchers also found that having a PSA level of 10 and above was a better cut-off for predicting the spread of disease compared to lower levels.

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To access the updated Partin Tables, go to By inputting your PSA, Gleason score, and clinical stage results, and clicking on “find results,” you can see the percentage chance that the cancer is confined to the prostate, has migrated to the edge of the gland, has invaded the seminal vesicles, or has spread to the lymph nodes.

This article was published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, March/April 2013.