Currently, one of the most difficult truths we must face is that surgery alone cannot cure cancer that has escaped the prostate. Who should undergo surgery, and who should forego it? In recent years, this decision has been far less agonizing, and much more objective, because of what have come to be known as the Partin tables. Developed by urologists Alan W. Partin, M.D., Ph.D. and Patrick C. Walsh, M.D. of Johns Hopkins, these tables have quietly revolutionized the way doctors and patients are making decisions about treatment for prostate cancer.
Until these tables, there was no way to predict what urologists might find when they opened up a patient during radical prostatectomy. Would the disease be contained within the prostate, or would it have spread - and thus, was the surgery unnecessary? We could guess, but we couldn't be sure if microscopic, undetectable bits of cancer had already escaped the prostate. The Partin tables correlate the three things that we could know about a man's disease - PSA level, Gleason score, and clinical stage - to produce an accurate means of estimating the exact extent of a man's prostate cancer before surgery.
Knowing that information has enabled both patient and physician to make more informed choices about their treatment options for cancer, even in cases where it has spread beyond the prostate.