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Mod Pathol. 2006 Feb;19(2):272-9.

pT classification, grade, and vascular invasion as prognostic indicators in urothelial carcinoma of the upper urinary tract.

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Institute of Pathology, Medical University Graz, Graz, Austria.


Clinicopathologic features predictive of patient outcome in upper urinary tract urothelial carcinoma are not well defined. The aim of this study was to assess the role of pT classification, tumor grade, and vascular invasion in predicting metastasis-free survival. A total of 190 consecutive invasive upper urinary tract urothelial cancers operated between 01/1984 and 12/2004 were re-evaluated with respect to pT classification, tumor grade (according to the three-tiered WHO 1973 and the recent two-tiered grading system following the WHO/ISUP consensus classification), as well as presence of lymph and/or blood vessel invasion. Prognostic impact was analyzed using the Kaplan-Meier method and the Log-Rank test. For multivariate testing, a Cox's proportional hazards regression model was used. pT1 was present in 81 (43%), pT2 in 29 (15%), pT3 in 73 (38%), and pT4 in seven (4%) cases. There were 12 (6%) G1, 96 (51%) G2, and 82 (43%) G3 tumors or 84 (44%) low-grade and 106 (56%) high-grade tumors according to the two-tiered system. The presence of vascular invasion in 72/190 (38%) tumors was associated with high pT classification (P<0.001) and high tumor grade (P<0.001). Disease progression occurred in 39% of patients, with 5- and 10-year metastasis-free survival rates of 56 and 45%, respectively. On univariate analysis, all investigated parameters showed prognostic significance. The negative influence of vascular invasion on patient outcome was strikingly strong in high pT classification and high-grade cancers. On multivariate analysis, pT classification (P<0.001) and vascular invasion (P<0.001) proved to be independent prognostic factors, whereas tumor grade according to the two-tiered system missed statistical significance (P=0.06). In conclusion, pT classification and vascular invasion are independent prognostic factors with respect to metastasis-free survival and should be used to guide adjuvant therapy strategies in affected patients. Presence (or absence) of vascular invasion should be commented upon separately in the pathology report.

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