• bladder carcinoma;
  • College of American Pathologists;
  • margin status;
  • pelvic lymph node dissection;
  • radical cystoprostatectomy



The authors evaluated the pathology of radical cystectomy and pelvic lymph node specimens from patients with bladder carcinoma who were enrolled in a cooperative group trial. Their objective was to determine whether current practices conform to suggested pathology practice guidelines for reporting on radical cystectomy and pelvic lymph node specimens.


Overall, 268 patients underwent radical cystectomy with pelvic lymph node dissection over 11 years in a total of 109 diverse geographic locations and types of institutions. Institutions included 50 community hospitals, 36 academic hospitals, and 23 Veterans Administration (VA)/military hospitals, which evaluated 84, 137, and 47 patients, respectively. The quality of pathology examination was assessed based on the original pathology reports of specimens that were submitted according to published practice guidelines.


Among all types of institutions, pathologic evaluation of radical cystectomy specimens generally was complete for tumor histology, grade, size, location, pathologic stage, lymph node status, prostate involvement, and associated mucosal abnormalities, including ureters and urethra. Perivesical fat (soft tissue) margins were not recorded in 10% of specimens, and 18% of patients did not mention either the presence or the number of lymph nodes. These deficiencies were observed primarily at community and VA hospitals.


The overall quality of pathologic examination of radical cystectomy specimens is high. Better reporting of soft tissue margin status and pelvic lymph node counts is needed to achieve compliance with the standards published by evolving practice protocols. Standardized pathologic evaluation and reporting of radical cystectomy specimens will optimize important prognostic information and foster better communication between the pathologist, surgeon, and interested oncologists to benefit patients. Cancer 2004. © 2004 American Cancer Society.