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J Urol. 2010 Jun;183(6):2148-53. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2010.02.005.

Long-term outcomes of nephroureterectomy versus endoscopic management for upper tract urothelial carcinoma.

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Department of Urology, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-0330, USA.



We compared outcomes in patients treated with nephroureterectomy vs nephron sparing endoscopic surgery for upper tract urothelial carcinoma.


Patients treated at our institution for upper tract urothelial carcinoma from 1996 to 2004 were monitored for upper tract and bladder recurrence, metastasis, and cancer specific and overall survival. Outcomes were compared between treatment groups by univariate and multivariate analyses based on pertinent pathological and demographic variables.


Of 96 renal units 62 underwent immediate nephroureterectomy and 34 were managed endoscopically. Median followup in all survivors was 77 months. Overall nephroureterectomy and endoscopy complication rates were 29% and 9.3%, respectively. In patients with low grade tumors the 5-year metastasis-free survival rate after nephroureterectomy and endoscopy was 88% and 94%. The corresponding 5-year cancer specific and overall survival rates were 89% vs 100% and 72% vs 75%, respectively. Of endoscopic cases 84% had at least 1 ipsilateral recurrence. Multivariate analysis revealed that only tumor grade was significantly associated with metastasis-free survival while grade and body mass index correlated with cancer specific survival, and Charlson Comorbidity index and grade impacted overall survival. Treatment group was not associated with survival outcome.


When technically feasible and in select patients, endoscopic management provides cancer related and overall survival equivalent to that of nephroureterectomy in patients with low grade upper tract urothelial carcinoma at the cost of frequent re-treatments in many patients. Nephroureterectomy is standard treatment for high grade cancer when there is a normal contralateral kidney but endoscopy should be considered when there are imperative indications for nephron sparing.

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