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Keywords:

  • bladder cancer;
  • lymphatic metastasis;
  • neoplasm staging;
  • cystectomy

OBJECTIVE

To test the hypothesis that patients with bladder cancer who had evidence of lymphovascular invasion (LVI) in their transurethral resection of bladder tumour (TURBT) and radical cystectomy (RC) specimens would have a worse prognosis and higher likelihood of clinical understaging, and to assess the effect of LVI discovered at RC on subsequent disease-related mortality, as the prognostic significance of LVI in TURBT or RC specimens of patients treated for urothelial carcinoma of the bladder is not completely established.

PATIENTS AND METHODS

We retrospectively reviewed the records of 163 patients with urothelial carcinoma of the bladder seen at our institution, and who had TURBT (69) or RC (94) between 1995 and 2005. We compared patients with LVI on TURBT and/or RC specimens to a group of controls who did not have LVI on TURBT (34) or RC (32).

RESULTS

Patients with LVI present in their TURBT specimen had a shorter disease-specific survival than those without LVI, with a 5-year survival of 33.6% vs 62.9% (log-rank test P = 0.027; hazard ratio 2.21). LVI at TURBT varied with clinical stage (P = 0.049). Patients with LVI and who were clinical stage I or II had lower survival than those without LVI (P = 0.049; hazard ratio 2.68). LVI did not affect survival among those with clinical stage III or IV (P = 0.29). There was a trend for patients with LVI at TURBT to be clinically understaged compared to those without LVI (75% vs 46%) but the difference was not significant (P = 0.086). Patients with LVI detected in their RC specimen were significantly more likely to have cancer recurrence than were those with no evidence of LVI (48% vs 19%, P = 0.006). For the RC group there was also a significant difference in survival distribution between patients with evidence of LVI vs those without (5-year survival 45.5% vs 78.4%, P = 0.017). Those with LVI were significantly more likely to die from the disease than those without LVI (P = 0.017; hazard ratio 2.92).

CONCLUSIONS

Our findings suggest that LVI is a histological feature that might be associated with a poorer prognosis in patients with urothelial carcinoma of the bladder. The presence of LVI in TURBT specimens predicts shorter survival for patients with stage I or II disease. The presence of LVI in RC specimens predicts recurrence of disease and shorter survival. Further studies are needed to determine whether this group of patients would benefit from early RC and/or perioperative chemotherapy to improve clinical outcomes.