Purpose: We determine the role of digital rectal examination in the followup of patients after radical prostatectomy. Materials and Methods: We retrospectively analyzed data on 501 consecutive patients who underwent radical retropubic prostatectomy between 1992 and 1998, and were followed at the University of Miami. Patients were evaluated at 3 to 6-month intervals after surgery with serum prostate specific antigen (PSA) and digital rectal examination. Biochemical recurrence was defined as PSA greater than 0.2 ng./ml. and increasing on at least 2 consecutive measurements. Local recurrence, detected by an abnormal digital rectal examination, was defined as an induration or nodularity in the prostatic fossa. Results: Mean followup plus or minus standard deviation was 25.4 ± 20.8 months. Disease recurred in 72 patients (14.4%) and was biochemical in all. An abnormal digital rectal examination was noted in 4 patients, none of whom had an undetectable PSA at the time of a palpable abnormality. Conclusions: Our results suggest that an abnormal digital rectal examination after radical prostatectomy is always associated with a detectable PSA, which implies that performing a digital rectal examination in the absence of a detectable PSA may not be necessary.
- Prostatic neoplasms
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