Background: Dissimilarities in management and outcomes exist between upper tract urothelial carcinoma (UTUC) and urothelial carcinoma of the bladder (UCB). Objective: The aim of this study was to analyze the stage-specific impact of upper or lower urinary tract tumor location on oncologic outcomes. Design, setting, and participants: Data were collected from 4335 patients with UCB treated with radical cystectomy (RC) and bilateral pelvic lymphadenectomy (PLND), 877 patients with ureteral UTUC, and 1615 with pelvicalyceal UTUC treated with radical nephroureterectomy (RNU). No patient received preoperative chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Interventions: Patients were treated with RC and bilateral PLND or RNU. Measurements: Outcomes were assessed according to primary tumor location. Results and limitations: Compared to UTUC patients, UCB patients had more advanced tumor stage and higher grade, and they were more likely to harbor lymphovascular invasion (LVI) and lymph node metastasis (p < 0.001). In non-muscle-invasive tumor stages, UCB patients were more likely to experience disease recurrence and mortality compared to renal pelvicalyceal tumor patients (p < 0.002) but not ureteral tumors (p > 0.05). In pT2 and pT3 tumors, there was no difference in outcomes between the three tumor locations. In pT4 tumors, patients with ureteral and pelvicalyceal tumors were more likely to experience disease recurrence and mortality compared to UCB patients (p < 0.004). These stage-specific findings were unchanged after adjustment for the effects of age, gender, tumor grade, LVI, lymph node status, and adjuvant chemotherapy. This study is limited by its retrospective and multicenter nature. Conclusions: Stage-specific differences in outcomes exist between UCB and UTUC. The differentially worse outcomes by stage between UCB and UTUC patients underline the differences between both cancer entities and the need for individualized stage-specific management for each patient.
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