Send to

Choose Destination
J Urol. 2012 Dec;188(6):2046-54. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2012.08.017. Epub 2012 Oct 18.

Upper urinary tract recurrence following radical cystectomy for bladder cancer: a meta-analysis on 13,185 patients.

Author information

Urology Department, IRCCS Policlinico San Donato, University of Milan, Milan, Italy.



Patients who undergo radical cystectomy for urothelial cancer are at risk for upper urinary tract disease in the remnant transitional tissue. Previous studies have identified several risk factors for upper urinary tract recurrence but the predictive value of each factor remains controversial. Furthermore, the schedule for surveillance of the upper urinary tract with imaging techniques and cytology has not been established. International guidelines do not address these topics and refer only to isolated works with a large case based analysis. We performed this meta-analysis to evaluate the effective incidence of upper urinary tract recurrence after cystectomy for bladder cancer, to analyze the risk factors so we can create subgroups of patients at high risk for recurrence and to investigate the real role of screening in the detection of upper tract lesions at an early stage.


A bibliographic search covering the period from January 1970 to July 2010 was conducted using PubMed®, MEDLINE and EMBASE®. This analysis is based on the 27 studies that fulfilled the predefined inclusion criteria. Data were analyzed using a fixed effect logistic regression approach and classic meta-analysis.


A total of 13,185 participants were included in the analysis. Followup was described in 22 studies and ranged from 0.36 to 349.2 months. The overall prevalence of upper tract transitional cell cancer after cystectomy ranged from 0.75% to 6.4%. Recurrence appeared at a range of 2.4 to 164 months, and in an advanced (64.6%) or metastatic state (35.6%) as reflected in poor survival rates. Patients with low grade vs high grade lesions at cystectomy showed as strong a significant difference in incidence as those with carcinoma in situ and superficial cancer vs invasive cancers and as strong as in those without lymph node involvement, with multifocal disease, with a history of multiple urothelial recurrences, with positive ureteral margins, with positive urethral margins, with urethral involvement and a history of upper urinary tract urothelial cancer. Data do not support a statistically significant difference in recurrence among patients with a history of carcinoma in situ, solitary lesion and among various types of urinary diversion adopted. In 24 studies the followup schedule included periodic radiological assessment of the upper urinary tract and in 20 it included urinary cytology. In 14 studies in 63 of 166 patients (38%) upper urinary tract recurrence was diagnosed by followup investigation whereas in the remaining 62% diagnosis was based on symptoms. When urine cytology was used in surveillance the rate of primary detection was 7% and with upper urinary tract imaging it was 29.6%. Of 5,537 patients who underwent routine cytological examination, recurrence was diagnosed in 1.8/1,000 and of those who underwent upper urinary tract imaging recurrence was diagnosed in 7.6/1,000.


The recurrence values could appear low when considering the pan-urothelial field defect theory, but these values reflect, in part, the mortality associated with the initial bladder cancer. Based on anamnesis and pathological examination of cystectomy specimens, a group of patients is at high risk. Extensive regular followup with cytology, urography and loopgraphy yields insufficient benefits. Periodic computerized tomography with urography combines the ability to study the upper urinary tract oncologically and functionally, and the identification of any parenchymal, osseous or lymph node secondary lesion.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center