Adjuvant chemotherapy for high-risk urothelial transitional cell carcinoma: the Princess Margaret Hospital experience


Dr Moore Department of Medicine, Princess Margaret Hospital, 610 University Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5G 2M9.



 To review the outcome of adjuvant systemic chemotherapy after surgery for patients with locally advanced urothelial transitional cell carcinoma (TCC) of the bladder and upper urinary tract who were at high risk for recurrence or metastatic spread.

Patients and methods

Thirty-five patients (27 men and eight women, median age 59 years) received adjuvant chemotherapy and were followed for a median of 31 months from surgery (range 12–109). All patients had undergone surgery (cystectomy, nephrectomy, nephrouretectomy), with removal of all evident tumour from the following primary sites: bladder (29), renal pelvis (three) and ureter (three). Thirty patients had stage pT3 or greater, 22 had node-positive disease and 16 had vascular invasion. The median interval from surgery to chemotherapy was 2 months. Patients received a median of four courses of cisplatin, methotrexate and vinblastine (n=23) or the same drugs with doxorubicin (n=12).


Toxicity included nine episodes of febrile neutropenia (one fatal) and six episodes of thromboembolism (one fatal). Eighteen patients (51%) remain alive and free of apparent disease with a median follow-up of 31 months. Actuarial overall and relapse-free survival were 64% and 57% at 2 years and 47% and 53% at 5 years, respectively. For the 22 node-positive patients, the median relapse-free survival and overall survival was 22 months and 33 months, respectively.


Patients with urothelial TCC at high risk of relapse after radical surgery can have a reasonable chance of long-term survival with systemic adjuvant chemotherapy. Treatment is associated with toxicity. The benefits of treatment should be addressed in a large randomized controlled trial.