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Keywords:

  • bladder cancer;
  • urothelial carcinoma;
  • lymphovascular invasion;
  • lymphatic metastasis;
  • prognosis;
  • survival

Study Type – Prognosis (inception cohort) Level of Evidence 1b

OBJECTIVES

To validate the association of lymphovascular invasion (LVI) with disease recurrence and cancer-specific survival (CSS) in a multicentre cohort of patients treated with radical cystectomy (RC) for urothelial bladder cancer (UBC).

PATIENTS AND METHODS

We collected pathological and clinical data on 1099 lymph node-negative patients treated with RC at six German institutions. LVI was defined as the presence of tumour cells within an unequivocal endothelium-lined space in haematoxylin and eosin-stained sections.

RESULTS

LVI was present in 295 (26.8%) patients; the presence of LVI correlated significantly with increasing tumour stage, i.e. pT1, 65 (29.4%); pT2, 88 (31.5%); pT3 110 (31.8%); and pT4 32 (38.1%) (P= 0.002) and grade (P < 0.001). In univariable analysis the presence of LVI was significantly associated with reduced recurrence-free survival (P= 0.008) and reduced CSS (P= 0.039). On multivariable Cox regression analysis tumour stage (P < 0.001), age (>75 vs ≥75 years; P= 0.018) and LVI (P < 0.001) were identified as independent predictors of CSS.

CONCLUSIONS

Our large multicentre study confirms the independent prognostic value of LVI in patients with node-negative UBC. LVI can be regarded as a surrogate variable for lymphatic micrometastasis in node-negative UBC. Assessment of LVI might improve the selection of patients who are likely to benefit from adjuvant therapy after RC. The identification of factors involved in the process of LVI could reveal new therapeutic targets for UBC.