Limitations of Prostate Biopsy in Detection of Cribriform and Intraductal Prostate Cancer

Rui M. Bernardino, Rashid K. Sayyid, Katherine Lajkosz, Zizo Al-Daqqaq, Jessica G. Cockburn, Julian Chavarriaga, Shideh Abedi, Ricardo Leão, Alejandro Berlin, Theodorus van der Kwast, Neil E. Fleshner

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Background: The presence of cribriform morphology and intraductal carcinoma (IDC) in prostate biopsies and radical prostatectomy specimens is an adverse prognostic feature that can be used to guide treatment decisions. Objective: To assess how accurately biopsies can detect cribriform morphology and IDC cancer by examining matched biopsy and prostatectomy samples. Design, setting, and participants: Patients who underwent radical prostatectomy at The Princess Margaret Cancer Centre between January 2015 and December 2022 and had cribriform morphology and/or IDC in the surgical specimen were included in the study. Outcome measurements and statistical analysis: We used detection sensitivity to evaluate the level of agreement between biopsy and prostatectomy samples regarding the presence of cribriform morphology and IDC. Results and limitations: Of the 287 men who underwent radical prostatectomy, 241 (84%) had cribriform morphology and 161 (56%) had IDC on final pathology. The sensitivity of prostate biopsy, using radical prostatectomy as the reference, was 42.4% (95% confidence interval [CI] 36–49%) for detection of cribriform morphology and 44.1% (95% CI 36–52%) for detection of IDC. The sensitivity of prostate biopsy for detection of either IDC or cribriform morphology was 52.5% (95% CI 47–58%). Among patients who underwent multiparametric magnetic resonance imaging–guided biopsies, the sensitivity was 54% (95% CI 39–68%) for detection of cribriform morphology and 37% (95% CI 19–58%) for detection of IDC. Conclusions: Biopsy has low sensitivity for detecting cribriform morphology and IDC. These limitations should be incorporated into clinical decision-making. Biomarkers for better detection of these histological patterns are needed. Patient summary: Prostate biopsy is not an accurate method for detecting two specific types of prostate cancer cells, called cribriform pattern and intraductal prostate cancer, which are associated with unfavorable prognosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146 - 153
JournalEuropean Urology Focus
Issue number1
Early online date10 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


  • Prostate biopsy
  • Prostatic neoplasms
  • Sensitivity


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