MRI-Detectability of Clinically Significant Prostate Cancer Relates to Oncologic Outcomes After Prostatectomy

Published:April 14, 2022DOI:



      Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) misses a proportion of “clinically significant” prostate cancers (csPC) as defined by histopathology criteria. The aim of this study was to analyze whether long-term oncologic outcomes differ between MRI-detectable and MRI-occult csPC.

      Patients and Methods

      Retrospective analysis of 1449 patients with pre-prostatectomy MRI and csPC on prostatectomy specimens (ie, Grade group ≥2 or extraprostatic spread) between 2001-2006. T2-weighted MRIs were classified according to the Prostate Imaging Reporting and Data System into MRI-occult (categories 1, 2), MRI-equivocal (category 3), and MRI-detectable (categories 4, 5). Cumulative incidence of biochemical recurrence (BCR), metastatic disease, and cancer-specific mortality, estimated with competing risk models. The median follow-up in survivors was 11.0 years (IQR: 8.9-13.1).


      In 188 (13%) cases, csPC was MRI-occult, 435 (30%) MRIs were equivocal, and 826 (57%) csPC were MRI-detectable. The 15-year cumulative incidence [95% CI] of BCR was 8.3% [2.2, 19.5] for MRI-occult cases, 17.4% [11.1, 24.8] for MRI-equivocal cases, and 43.3% [38.7, 47.8] for MRI-detectable cases (P < .001). The cumulative incidences of metastases were 0.61% [0.06, 3.1], 3.5% [1.5, 6.9], and 19.6% [15.4, 24.2] for MRI-occult, MRI-equivocal, and MRI-detectable cases, respectively (P < .001). There were no deaths from prostate cancer observed in patients with MRI-occult csPC, compared to an estimated 1.9% [0.54, 4.9], and 7.1 % [4.5, 10.6] for patients with MRI-equivocal and MRI-detectable cancer, respectively (P < .001).


      Oncologic outcomes after prostatectomy for csPC differ between MRI-occult and MRI-detectable lesions. Judging the clinical significance of a negative prostate MRI based on histopathologic surrogates alone might be misleading.


      Among 1449 patients with pre-prostatectomy MRI and clinically significant prostate cancer on prostatectomy histopathology, MRI-occult cancers (n = 188, 13%) were less likely to recur biochemically (8% vs. 43%, P < .001), metastasize (0.6% vs. 20%, P < .001), or lead to prostate cancer mortality (0% vs. 7%, P < .001) than MRI-detectable cancers (n = 826, 57%). MRI-occult cancers constitute a prognostically distinct subgroup among higher-grade prostate cancers.


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