Post Radiation Therapy Pathology of Prostate Cancer

Post Radiation Therapy Pathology of Prostate Cancer

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The early published literature on post–radiation therapy pathology in patients with prostate cancer is based on treatment with external beam radiation. However, brachytherapy techniques produce the same pathologic changes.

About one quarter of men with prostate cancer choose radiotherapy. [1] Prostate radiotherapy can be delivered by brachytherapy or external beam therapy or brachytherapy. In external beam therapy, a beam delivers radiation to the whole pelvis, with a boost to the prostate.

In brachytherapy, interstitial radiation is delivered by implanted seeds containing a radioisotope (iodine-131 (131 I), iridium-192 [192 Ir], or gold-198 [198 Au]).

Serum prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and a rectal examination may suggest whether or not radiotherapy has eradicated the entire prostate tumor. [2]

Postirradiation, the benign prostate shows acinar atrophy, with acinar distortion and decreased number and size of acini. In the most extreme form, only single cells may remain. Cytoplasm is usually decreased. Some nuclei are pyknotic, while others may be enlarged and atypical, exceeding the atypia of cancer. Basal cell hyperplasia or squamous metaplasia may exist. (See the images below.)

In either benign or malignant prostate tissue, stromal fibrosis may occur following radiation therapy. Vascular changes include myointimal proliferation, luminal narrowing, and foamy macrophages. The hyalinized and thickened vessels provide a clue that the patient previously received radiation therapy, even if the clinician has not specified this. (See the image below.)

Histologic features of irradiated cancer and reactive prostate, however, can overlap, regardless of the form of radiotherapy. Thus, it is reasonable to label some cases as indeterminate or atypical suspicious acinar proliferation (ASAP), a designation applied to most of the 20% of nonnegative biopsies in one study. [3] Microscopic findings following prostate irradiation are demonstrated in the images below.

Benign acini with no residual cancer are positive for high–molecular-weight basal cell cytokeratin 34ßE12, prostate-specific antigen (PSA), and prostatic acid phosphatase (PAP). The absence of basal cell cytokeratin staining is most reliable in diagnosing residual cancer, provided that good internal positive control exists. The intensity and percentage of nonneoplastic epithelium staining with this marker can be optimized with methods that involve steam heat and ethylenediaminetetra-acetic acid (EDTA) for antigen retrieval. [4]

In a study by Yang et al to test the usefulness of the marker α-methylacyl-coenzyme A (CoA) racemase (AMACR, P504S) in diagnosing postirradiation cancer, the authors found that the marker was consistently reactive in 28 cancers and was nonreactive in 12 benign postbiopsy cases. [5] However, the authors also found that, when used in conjunction with cytokeratin 34ßE12, P504S was not considered to increase recognition of postirradiation cancer, compared with cytokeratin 34ßE12 alone. [6]

If cancer cells are present, their viability can be assessed by positive staining with pan-cytokeratin and PSA. [7] In positive biopsy specimens obtained 12 months after radiotherapy, pan-cytokeratin staining is useful. A negative result predicts resolution of tumor in 83-97% of cases by 36 months. Positive pan-cytokeratin findings correlate with local failure in 49-79% of cases, but when pan-cytokeratin is present in an early biopsy specimen (12-18 months), it still may subsequently disappear. [8]

Preradiation expression of MIB-1 [9] and TP53 [10] predicts postradiation recurrence. Increased TP53 expression occurs after radiation, indicating that cells with abnormal overexpression were protected from cell death. TP53 expression in radioresistant cancer (postradiation) is less likely if patients receive neoadjuvant hormonal treatment. [11, 12] No significant changes in BCL2 or P21WAF1 are found.

Jackson et al conducted a retrospective review to assess whether the presence of Gleason pattern 5 (GP5) is associated with worse clinical outcomes for patients receiving salvage radiation therapy after experiencing an increase in prostate-specific antigen level after undergoing treatment. [13] Their review included a total of 575 patients who underwent primary radiation therapy for localized prostate cancer and who subsequently received salavage radiation therapy. Biochemical failure, distant metastasis, and prostate cancer–specific mortality were assessed using univariate analysis and Fine and Grays competing risks multivariate models. On pathologic evaluation, 563 (98%) patients had a documented Gleason score. The median follow-up period after salvage radiation therapy was 56.7 months. A total of 60 patients (10.7%) had primary, secondary, or tertiary GP5. On univariate analysis, the presence of GP5 was prognostic of biochemical failure, distant metastasis,andprostatecancer–specificmortality.Restratification of the Gleason score to include GP5 as a distinct entity resulted in improved prognostic capability. On multivariate analysis, the presence of GP5 was the most adverse pathologic predictor of biochemical failure, distant metastasis, prostate cancer–specific mortality. The investigators concluded that for patients with prostate cancer who undergo salvage radiation therapy, the presence of GP5 is a critical pathologic predictor of biochemical failure, distant metastasis, and prostate cancer–specific mortality. [13]

Lilleby et al conducted a study to determine whether the presence of pretreatment disseminated cells in bone marrow aspirates that were sampled before initiation of primary therapy for patients with prostate cancer has a bearing on prognosis and long-term survival. [14] Their study included 129 patients with T1–3N0M0 prostate cancer for whom long-term follow-up data were available. Pretreatment bone marrow aspirates were available for 100 of those patients. Patients received either combined therapy, radiotherapy with hormone treatment of differing duration, or monotherapy with radiation therapy or hormone therapy alone [n = 48 (37%)]. Mononuclear cells were deposited on slides according to the cytospin methodology. The median age of the patients at diagnosis was 64.5 years (range, 49.5-73.4 years). The median long-term follow-up from the first bone marrow sampling to the last observation was 11 years. On multivariate analysis, the presence of pretreatment disseminated cells in bone marrowwastheonly statistically independent parameter for survival. The investigators concluded that for patients with nonmetastatic prostate cancer, the presence of pretreatment disseminated cells in bone marrow is significantly associated with clinically relevant outcomes independently of the patient’s treatment. [14]

Stone et al conducted a literature review to assess the degree to which local recurrence occurs after prostate brachytherapy, as well as the treatment options available after such recurrence. [15] In their reivew, they identified 6 patients who experienced an increase in prostate-specific antigen levels after undergoing brachytherapy. The patients were subsequently treated with targeted, focused cryoablation. Local recurrence after prostate brachytherapy occurred in 2-20% of patients and was dose dependent. The biologic effective dose greater than 200 Gy2 was associated with a less than 2% recurrence rate. The investigators recommended that the pathologist be experienced in evaluating postirradiation tissue, owing to the difficulty in distinguishing benign irradiated prostate from residual or recurrent tumor. They also recommended that confirmatory biopsy include both the prostate and seminal vesicles. They found that whole-gland salvage, whether by prostatectomy or cryoablation, wasassociatedwith high complication rates. Focal therapy had fewer complications, although targeting was less accurate. They found that multiparametric MRI and transperineal mapping biopsy were advantageous in lesion identification and ablation. They concluded that improved lesion identification and targeting may be associated with better cancer control and lower morbidity, and they suggested that transperineal mapping biopsy with interactive targeting software may offer the best approach to focused therapy. [15]

Barchetti et al conducted a study to assess the role of multiparametric MRI in the detection of locoregional recurrence of prostate cancer after radical prostatectomy and radiation therapy. [16] They undertook a systematic review of the literature using the Medline and Cochrane Library databases to identify relevant studies published from January 1995 to November 2013. They found that multiparametric MRI makes it possible to differentiate between residual glandular healthy tissue, scar/fibrotic tissue, granulation tissue, and tumor recurrence and that it may be useful in assessing the aggressiveness of nodule recurrence. They suggested that multiparametric MRI could be used to boost the dose of salvage radiation therapy to the recurrent nodule, thereby improving control of local disease and avoiding eventual locoregional recurrence, and that hybrid PET/MRI scanners may further improve diagnostic accuracy by depicting local recurrence in postprostatectomy fossa. [16]

Postradiotherapy grading of cancer was not endorsed by the International Consultation Meeting on Prostatic Intraepithelial Neoplasia & Pathologic Staging of Prostatic Carcinoma, November 1995. This issue remains controversial, with conflicting data. [17] The Gleason score in needle biopsy specimens from nonirradiated prostates matches the score by ±1 in the prostatectomy specimen 74% of the time. [18] A Mayo Clinic study evaluating patients treated with radiation and salvage prostatectomy showed a mean Gleason score of 6.2 in biopsy samples and 6.8 in prostatectomy samples. [19]

However, other studies have shown posttherapy upgrading. Siders and Lee found a 24% increase in the number of poorly differentiated tumors (Gleason score 8-10) after radiotherapy. [20]

The strongest argument for grading is for doing so by multivariate analysis; Gleason score and deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) ploidy predicted cancer-specific survival in the Mayo Clinic study. [19]

Wheeler et al found that patients with dedifferentiation of locally recurrent prostate cancer after radiation therapy had poorer survival than did patients who retained their original tumor grade. On multiple variable logistic regression, time since treatment was the only factor predictive for dedifferentiation; thus, these researchers concluded that the dedifferentiation reflected time-dependent progression. [21]

The recommended timing of a prostate biopsy after irradiation is a minimum of 1 year after completion of radiation therapy. This approach reliably discloses residual cancer. [22] Biopsy samples should be taken from as many sites as possible.

Crook et al reported that ultrasonographically guided biopsies beginning 12 months after radiation therapy revealed failure in 103 (21%) of 479 of patients; however, in 67 of these patients, biopsy results converted to negative after a mean of 28 months. [23] Thus, the tumor may take up to 28 months to resolve.

In a study of 160 patients, at a median 6.7-year follow-up, 21% of patients had a positive biopsy result. [24] The radiation therapy failure rate has been found to be 25-90%, depending on whether failure is based on biochemical or biopsy evidence. Notably, in a study by Miller et al, 17% of patients with positive biopsy findings remained clinically free of disease at more than 10 years of follow-up. [25] It has also been reported that in patients undergoing salvage radical prostatectomy after failure, recurrence was detected by biopsy after a mean of 3.5 (0.5-17) years.

A study by Marinelli et al found that in patients with stage II prostate cancer, 95% of postradiation biopsy specimens were negative for cancer; this figure was 55% for stage III cancer. [26]

In a study by Cheng et al, salvage prostatectomy after radiation failure produced a 5-year, cancer-specific survival rate of 91%; 83% of patients were free of metastases. [27]

About 50% of men undergoing high-dose-rate brachytherapy followed by external beam radiotherapy reported a significant decrease in Expanded Prostate Cancer Index Composite (EPIC) urinary, bowel, sexual, and hormonal domain scores by 12 months. In comparison, those undergoing a dose of radiation directed at the urethra had a greater deterioration in quality of life. [28, 29]

Potosky AL, Davis WW, Hoffman RM, et al. Five-year outcomes after prostatectomy or radiotherapy for prostate cancer: the prostate cancer outcomes study. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2004 Sep 15. 96(18):1358-67. [Medline].

Dugan TC, Shipley WU, Young RH, et al. Biopsy after external beam radiation therapy for adenocarcinoma of the prostate: correlation with original histological grade and current prostate specific antigen levels. J Urol. 1991 Nov. 146(5):1313-6. [Medline].

Prestidge BR, Hoak DC, Grimm PD, Ragde H, Cavanagh W, Blasko JC. Posttreatment biopsy results following interstitial brachytherapy in early-stage prostate cancer. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1997 Jan 1. 37(1):31-9. [Medline].

Iczkowski KA, Cheng L, Crawford BG, Bostwick DG. Steam-EDTA optimizes immunohistochemical expression of basal-cell specific anti-keratin 34bE12 to discriminate cancer in prostatic epithelium. Mod Pathol. 1998. 11:In press.

Yang XJ, Laven B, Tretiakova M, et al. Detection of alpha-methylacyl-coenzyme A racemase in postradiation prostatic adenocarcinoma. Urology. 2003 Aug. 62(2):282-6. [Medline].

Martens MB, Keller JH. Routine immunohistochemical staining for high-molecular weight cytokeratin 34-beta and alpha-methylacyl CoA racemase (P504S) in postirradiation prostate biopsies. Mod Pathol. 2006 Feb. 19(2):287-90. [Medline].

Brawer MK, Nagle RB, Pitts W, Freiha F, Gamble SL. Keratin immunoreactivity as an aid to the diagnosis of persistent adenocarcinoma in irradiated human prostates. Cancer. 1989 Feb 1. 63(3):454-60. [Medline].

Crook J, Robertson S, Esche B. Proliferative cell nuclear antigen in postradiotherapy prostate biopsies. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1994 Sep 30. 30(2):303-8. [Medline].

Scalzo DA, Kallakury BV, Gaddipati RV, et al. Cell proliferation rate by MIB-1 immunohistochemistry predicts postradiation recurrence in prostatic adenocarcinomas. Am J Clin Pathol. 1998 Feb. 109(2):163-8. [Medline].

Grignon DJ, Caplan R, Sarkar FH, et al. p53 status and prognosis of locally advanced prostatic adenocarcinoma: a study based on RTOG 8610. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1997 Jan 15. 89(2):158-65. [Medline].

Rakozy C, Grignon DJ, Sarkar FH, Sakr WA, Littrup P, Forman J. Expression of bcl-2, p53, and p21 in benign and malignant prostatic tissue before and after radiation therapy. Mod Pathol. 1998 Sep. 11(9):892-9. [Medline].

Bian SX, Kuban DA, Levy LB, et al. Addition of short-term androgen deprivation therapy to dose-escalated radiation therapy improves failure-free survival for select men with intermediate-risk prostate cancer. Ann Oncol. 2012 Feb 21. [Medline].

Jackson W, Hamstra DA, Johnson S, Zhou J, Foster B, Foster C, et al. Gleason pattern 5 is the strongest pathologic predictor of recurrence, metastasis, and prostate cancer-specific death in patients receiving salvage radiation therapy following radical prostatectomy. Cancer. 2013 Sep 15. 119(18):3287-94. [Medline].

Lilleby W, Stensvold A, Mills IG, Nesland JM. Disseminated tumor cells and their prognostic significance in nonmetastatic prostate cancer patients. Int J Cancer. 2013 Jul. 133(1):149-55. [Medline].

Stone NN, Unger P, Crawford ED, Stock RG. Diagnosis and management of local recurrence after low-dose-rate brachytherapy. Brachytherapy. 2014 Sep 16. [Medline].

Barchetti F, Panebianco V. Multiparametric MRI for recurrent prostate cancer post radical prostatectomy and postradiation therapy. Biomed Res Int. 2014. 2014:316272. [Medline]. [Full Text].

Johnstone PA, Riffenburgh R, Saunders EL, Willison FW. Grading inaccuracies in diagnostic biopsies revealing prostatic adenocarcinoma: implications for definitive radiation therapy. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1995 May 15. 32(2):479-82. [Medline].

Bostwick DG. Gleason grading of prostatic needle biopsies. Correlation with grade in 316 matched prostatectomies. Am J Surg Pathol. 1994 Aug. 18(8):796-803. [Medline].

Cheng L, Sebo TJ, Slezak J, et al. Predictors of survival for prostate carcinoma patients treated with salvage radical prostatectomy after radiation therapy. Cancer. 1998 Nov 15. 83(10):2164-71. [Medline].

Siders DB, Lee F. Histologic changes of irradiated prostatic carcinoma diagnosed by transrectal ultrasound. Hum Pathol. 1993. 23:344-51.

Wheeler JA, Zagars GK, Ayala AG. Dedifferentiation of locally recurrent prostate cancer after radiation therapy. Evidence for tumor progression. Cancer. 1993 Jun 1. 71(11):3783-7. [Medline].

Bostwick DG, Egbert BM, Fajardo LF. Radiation injury of the normal and neoplastic prostate. Am J Surg Pathol. 1982 Sep. 6(6):541-51. [Medline].

Crook JM, Bahadur YA, Perry GA, Malone SC, Robertson SJ. Radiotherapy for prostate cancer: results of systematic biopsies for 479 patients [abstract]. J Urol. 1998. 159 [suppl]:64.

Zapatero A, Minguez R, Nieto S, Martin de Vidales C, Garcia-Vicente F. Post-treatment Prostate Biopsies in the Era of Three-Dimensional Conformal Radiotherapy: What Can They Teach Us?. Eur Urol. 2008 May 7. [Medline].

Miller EB, Ladaga LE, el-Mahdi AM, Schellhammer PF. Reevaluation of prostate biopsy after definitive radiation therapy. Urology. 1993 Apr. 41(4):311-6. [Medline].

Marinelli D, Shanberg AM, Tansey LA, et al. Followup prostate biopsy in patients with carcinoma of the prostate treated by 192iridium template irradiation plus supplemental external beam radiation. J Urol. 1992 Mar. 147(3 Pt 2):922-5. [Medline].

Cheng L, Cheville JC, Pisansky TM, et al. Prevalence and distribution of prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia in salvage radical prostatectomy specimens after radiation therapy. Am J Surg Pathol. 1999 Jul. 23(7):803-8. [Medline].

Morton GC, Loblaw DA, Chung H, Tsang G, Sankreacha R, Deabreu A, et al. Health-related quality of life after single-fraction high-dose-rate brachytherapy and hypofractionated external beam radiotherapy for prostate cancer. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2011 Aug 1. 80(5):1299-305. [Medline].

Haugnes HS, Melby B, Larsen KM, et al. Assessment of late urinary, bowel and sexual function after dose escalation from 70 to 76 Gy using image-guided radiotherapy in curative treatment of prostate cancer. Scand J Urol Nephrol. 2012 Feb 22. [Medline].

Kenneth A Iczkowski, MD Associate Professor of Pathology and Urology, Medical College of Wisconsin

Kenneth A Iczkowski, MD is a member of the following medical societies: College of American Pathologists, United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Liang Cheng, MD Professor of Pathology and Urology, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine; Chief, Genitourinary Pathology Service, Indiana University Health

Liang Cheng, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Association for Cancer Research, American Urological Association, College of American Pathologists, United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology, International Society of Urological Pathology, Arthur Purdy Stout Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Post Radiation Therapy Pathology of Prostate Cancer

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