Clinical staging of prostate cancer: Reproducibility and clarification of issues

Timothy Campbell, John Blasko, E. David Crawford, Jeffrey Forman, Gerald Hanks, Deborah Kuban, James Montie, Judd Moul, Alan Pollack, Derek Raghavan, Paul Ray, I. I.I. Mack Roach, Gary Steinberg, Nelson Stone, Ian Thompson, Nicholas Vogelzang, Srinivasan Vijayakumar

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22 Scopus citations


The American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) staging system for prostate cancer adopted in 1992 is based on tumor-node-metastasis (TNM) designations. It has been widely accepted for use in local and advanced disease. The purpose of this study was to assess reproducibility of staging among observers and to help clarify staging issues. Twelve prostate cancer cases were sent to 20 physicians with special expertise in prostate cancer including eight urologists, eight radiation oncologists, and four medical oncologists. Physicians were asked to assign a stage based on the 1992 AJCC clinical staging. The most frequently reported stage assigned to each case was taken to be the consensus. Agreement was the percentage of physicians who reported that particular stage. Seventy-five percent of the physicians responded. The overall agreement for assignment oft stage was 63.9%. Differences were found by specialty for inclusion of available information in designating a T stage. The overall agreement for N stage was 73.8%. The most common designation was Nx regardless of availability of a computed tomography scan. The overall agreement for M stage was 76.6%. Without a bone scan the most common designation was Mx regardless of Gleason grade or prostate-specific antigen (PSA). A frequent comment was that PSA was more indicative of disease extent than current clinical staging. The reproducibility of the 1992 clinical AJCC staging is poor even among experts in the field. This problem arises primarily from disagreement regarding which studies are included in assigning a stage. Some of these difficulties are addressed in the 1997 revision. However, the clinical staging does not address the true biological significance of disease in many instances.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-209
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number3
StatePublished - 20 Jun 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer staging
  • Prostate cancer
  • Tumor-node-metastasis (TNM)


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