Upper urinary tract urothelial carcinoma with loco-regional nodal metastases: insights from the Upper Tract Urothelial Carcinoma Collaboration


Vitaly Margulis, Department of Urology, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, 5323 Harry Hines Boulevard, Dallas, TX 75390-9110, USA.e-mail: Vitaly.Margulis@utsouthwestern.edu


Study Type – Therapy (multi-insititutional cohort)

Level of Evidence 2b

What’s known on the subject? and What does the study add?

Neoadjuvant chemotherapy offers survival benefits for patients with urothelial carcinoma of the bladder. However, it is still underutilized in the ‘biologically similar’ upper tract urothelial carcinoma. Systemic chemotherapy in a neoadjuvant setting is a more attractive option, as loss of renal function after nephrectomy can complicate the administration of adjuvant chemotherapy. We found that preoperative systemic therapy followed by aggressive surgical debulking is a promising treatment strategy for upper tract urothelial carcinoma patients with known or at risk of loco-regional nodal metastasis.


• To describe a multicentre experience with preoperative platinum-based chemotherapy before radical nephroureterectomy (RNU) in patients with upper tract urothelial carcinoma (UTUC) with loco-regional nodal metastases.


• We identified 313 patients from the UTUC Collaboration (over 1200 patients), who underwent RNU with concomitant retroperitoneal lymph node dissection between 1990 and 2007 and met the inclusion criteria for one of three groups.

• Group 1 comprised patients who received chemotherapy before RNU because of biopsy-proven loco-regional nodal metastases.

• Group 2 consisted of patients who underwent primary RNU and were found to have metastatic nodal disease on final pathological review (node-positive).

• Group 3 comprised a comparative cohort of patients treated with primary RNU for invasive or locally advanced (pT2/pT4) node-negative (N0) UTUC.


• Groups 1, 2 and 3 included 18, 120 and 175 patients, respectively. The 5-year disease-free survival rates were 49%, 30% and 64%, whereas the 5-year cancer-specific survival rates were 44%, 36% and 69% in groups 1, 2 and 3, respectively.

• In group 1, on final pathological evaluation, nine patients were pN0, six patients were pT0 and five patients had pT0N0 disease. Kaplan–Meier survival analyses showed similar recurrence and survival rates in group 1 compared with group 3 (P= 0.14 and P= 0.06, respectively).

• Meanwhile, group 2 had significantly lower disease-free and cancer-specific survival rates compared with group 3 (P < 0.001 and P < 0.001, respectively) and compared with group 1 (P= 0.04 and P= 0.06, respectively).


• Preoperative chemotherapy followed by aggressive surgical consolidation may yield favourable oncological outcomes in patients with UTUC with loco-regional nodal metastases.

• These data support further evaluation of neoadjuvant systemic therapy in patients at risk for locally advanced UTUC.