Multiple therapeutic options are available for the management of patients with upper urinary tract transitional cell carcinoma (TCC). Radical nephroureterectomy with an ipsilateral bladder cuff is the gold-standard therapy for upper-tract cancers. However, less invasive alternatives have a role in the treatment of this disease. Endoscopic management of upper-tract TCC is a reasonable strategy for patients with anatomic or functional solitary kidneys, bilateral upper-tract TCC, baseline renal insufficiency, and significant comorbid diseases. Select patients with a normal contralateral kidney who have small, low-grade lesions might also be candidates for endoscopic ablation. Distal ureterectomy is an option for patients with high-grade, invasive, or bulky tumors of the distal ureter not amenable to endoscopic management. In appropriately selected patients, outcomes following distal ureterectomy are similar to that of radical nephroureterectomy. Bladder cancer is a common occurrence following the management of upper-tract TCC. Currently, there are no variables that consistently predict which patients will develop intravesical recurrences. As such, surveillance with cystoscopy and cytology following surgical management of upper-tract TCC is essential. Extrapolating from data on bladder TCC, both regional lymphadenectomy and neoadjuvant chemotherapy regimens are likely to be beneficial for patients with upper-tract TCC, particularly in the setting of bulky disease.
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