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Urology. 2001 Aug;58(2):174-8.

Is nephroureterectomy necessary in all cases of upper tract transitional cell carcinoma? Long-term results of conservative endourologic management of upper tract transitional cell carcinoma in individuals with a normal contralateral kidney.

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  • 1Department of Urology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota 55905, USA.



To evaluate the endoscopic management of upper urinary tract transitional cell carcinoma (TCC) as a first-line treatment in patients with a normal contralateral kidney.


During an 11-year period, 21 patients diagnosed with upper tract TCC were treated with conservative endourologic techniques using either neodymium:yttrium-aluminum-garnet laser or electrocautery at our institution. The 21 patients were followed up for a mean of 6.1 years (range 1 to 11.6).


A total of 8 renal pelvic tumors and 13 ureteral tumors were found. All tumors were Stage T1 or less and grade 3 or less. All tumors were less than 2 cm in the greatest dimension (range 0.4 to 2). Of the 21 patients, 7 (33%) had one local recurrence and 1 (4.7%) developed two local recurrences. Of the 13 ureteral tumors, 6 (46%) recurred; 1 (12%) of the 8 renal pelvic tumors recurred. No recurrent tumor was shown to have an increase in grade. Of the 21 target renal units, 17 (81%) were preserved; 4 (19%) of 21 patients required nephroureterectomy because of tumor recurrence. Overall, 11 patients in the series died, 10 of non-TCC etiology and 1 secondary to invasive bladder TCC that developed after treatment for upper tract TCC. No patients died as a result of conservative management of their upper tract TCC.


Endourologic techniques and conservative treatment of upper tract TCC is an evolving field; however, in properly selected patients, endoscopic treatment can be safely and effectively used as a first-line treatment for upper tract TCC.

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