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Keywords:

  • bladder cancer;
  • invasive;
  • outcome;
  • radical cystectomy

Objective To examine whether the outcome of cystectomy for invasive transitional cell carcinoma (TCC) of the bladder was influenced by the type of disease at initial presentation.

Patients and methods The charts of 76 patients treated for TCC by radical cystectomy from 1987 to 1997 in our unit were reviewed. The patients were divided into three groups: group 1 comprised 43 patients with primary invasive disease; group 2 included 12 patients with progression of an initial superficial bladder tumour after failure of conservative treatment; and group 3 comprised 21 patients who had a radical cystectomy for superficial TCC, with a high risk of progression after attempts at conservative treatment. The pathological findings on transurethral resection and cystectomy specimens, cancer-specific survival and the time to progression were compared among the three groups.

Results The rate of pT0 in cystectomy specimens was 16%, 41% and 24% in groups 1, 2 and 3, respectively. Under-staging occurred in 24% of cases in group 3. The 10-year cancer-specific survival rates were 48%, 47% and 82% in groups 1, 2 and 3, respectively. The cancer-specific survival rate and progression rate were not significantly different between groups 1 and 2, but were significantly lower/higher in these patients than in group 3 (P < 0.01).

Conclusions These data suggest that the prognosis of superficial TCC which progresses despite conservative management is no better than that of invasive TCC at initial presentation, despite the closer follow-up received by the former patients. Early identification of this group of patients may improve the cancer-specific survival, as early cystectomy for high-risk superficial TCC yields better results.