Clinical and pathobiological effects of neoadjuvant total androgen ablation therapy on clinically localized prostatic adenocarcinoma
Neoadjuvant total androgen ablation therapy leads to involutional changes in prostatic carcinoma and may have the potential to downstage operable prostate cancers. We studied 27 clinically localized prostatic carcinomas after 3 months of combined treatment with a luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone agonist, goserelin acetate, and the antiandrogen flutamide, followed by radical retropubic prostatectomy, for changes in the serum prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level, changes in prostatic volume, therapy-induced histopathologic changes, DNA ploidy, and proliferative activity. Ten hormonally untreated, grade-matched prostatic adenocarcinomas served as controls. The mean pretherapy serum PSA level was 17.5 ng/ml, and posttherapy PSA levels were all < 4.0 ng/ml, with 18 men having undetectable levels. The mean reduction in prostatic volume following hormonal therapy was 37% (range 16-52%). Pathologic staging confirmed 20 pT2N0, six pT3N0, and one pT3N1. All prostates showed residual adenocarcinoma (extremely focal in seven cases [26%] with loss of glandular architecture, cytoplasmic vacuolization, and nuclear pyknosis. High-grade adenocarcinoma was nondiploid in 25% of hormonally treated prostates and 80% of 10 untreated controls. Immunostaining for proliferating cell nuclear antigen showed > 10% nuclear reactivity in 33% of treated carcinomas and 90% of untreated carcinomas. In conclusion, 3 months of neoadjuvant androgen ablation for localized prostatic carcinoma significantly lowers serum PSA and prostatic volume and produces involutional changes in residual carcinomas that mimic high-grade disease. However, pretreated carcinomas have predominantly a diploid DNA content and low proliferative activity as opposed to untreated carcinomas. Thus, grading of pretreated adenocarcinomas by conventional methods may be misleading. Preoperative total androgen ablation has a profound effect on a subset of prostatic carcinoma cells, possibly by facilitating programmed cell death.