OBJECTIVES: To examine the relationship between age and biochemical failure after radical prostatectomy (RP), controlling for the year of surgery. Prior studies have suggested that younger men have lower prostate-specific antigen recurrence rates after RP, although none of the prior studies had controlled for the year of surgery. METHODS: We examined the data from 1753 men treated with RP between 1988 and 2002 at five equal access medical centers. We compared age, as a categorical variable according to decade of life (50 years old or younger, 51 to 60, 61 to 70, and older than 70 years), with the clinical and pathologic variables at RP, as well as the time to biochemical recurrence, using a multivariate Cox proportional hazards model. RESULTS: Age was significantly related to the year of surgery, with the more recently treated patients being younger than less recently treated patients (P <0.001). After controlling for the year of surgery, the younger men had smaller prostates, fewer high-grade tumors on biopsy, and less lymph node metastasis, but a greater percentage of cores with cancer. On multivariate analysis, men 50 years old or younger had significantly lower recurrence rates than did the older men. Moreover, men older than 70 years had significantly greater prostate-specific antigen failure rates than men aged 51 to 70 years or men aged 50 years or younger. CONCLUSIONS: The average age of men undergoing RP has decreased with time. Independent of this, young men have more favorable outcomes after RP than older men. Continued screening to detect prostate cancer among younger men when it is most curable appears warranted.
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