Objective: This study aimed to evaluate the impact of palpable prostate tumors on digital rectal exam (DRE) on the disease progression of prostate cancer (PCa) treated with RARP surgery in a tertiary referral center. Materials and methods: Overall, 901 patients were evaluated in a period ranging from January 2013 to October 2020. In the surgical specimen, unfavorable pathology included ISUP grade group ≥3, seminal vesicle invasion (SVI), and pelvic lymph node invasion (PLNI). Disease progression was defined as the occurrence of biochemical recurrence and/or local recurrence and/or distant metastases; its association with the primary endpoint was evaluated by Cox's proportional model. Results: Palpable prostate tumors were detected in 359 (39.8%) patients. The overall median (IQR) follow-up was 40 months (17-59). PCa progressed in 159 cases (17.6%). Nodularity or induration of the prostate at DRE was significantly associated with features of unfavorable pathology, increased risk of PCa progression (hazard ratio, HR = 1.902; 95% CI: 1.389-2.605; p < 0.0001) and, on multivariable analysis, was an independent prognostic factor for disease progression after adjusting for clinical and pathological variables. Conclusions: Prostate tumors presenting with an abnormal DRE finding have an independent adverse outcome for disease progression after PCa surgery. They provide also independent prognostic information, as they may be more aggressive than impalpable PCa.
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