General Information About Transitional Cell Cancer of the Renal Pelvis and Ureter
Incidence and Mortality
Transitional cell carcinoma of the renal pelvis, accounting for only 7% of all kidney tumors, and transitional cell cancer of the ureter, accounting for only 1 of every 25 upper urinary tract tumors, are curable in more than 90% of patients if they are superficial and confined to the renal pelvis or ureter. Patients with deeply invasive tumors that are confined to the renal pelvis or ureter have a 10% to 15% likelihood of cure. Patients with tumors with penetration through the urothelial wall or with distant metastases usually cannot be cured with currently available forms of treatment.
The major prognostic factor at the time of diagnosis of upper tract transitional cell cancer is the depth of infiltration into or through the uroepithelial wall.
Most superficial tumors are likely to be well differentiated, while infiltrative tumors are likely to be poorly differentiated. The incidence of synchronous or metachronous contralateral upper tract cancers ranges from 2% to 4%; the incidence of subsequent bladder cancer after previous upper tract transitional cell cancer ranges from 30% to 50%. When involvement of the upper tract is diffuse (involving both the renal pelvis and ureter), the likelihood of subsequent development of bladder cancer increases to 75%. DNA ploidy has not added significant prognostic information beyond that provided by stage and grade.
Even if ureteroscopy and pyeloscopy are successfully implemented, accurate assessment of depth of invasion is difficult.
Treatment Management and Survivorship
Total excision of the ureter with a bladder cuff, renal pelvis, and kidney is recommended in an attempt to provide the greatest likelihood of cure.
- Krogh J, Kvist E, Rye B: Transitional cell carcinoma of the upper urinary tract: prognostic variables and post-operative recurrences. Br J Urol 67 (1): 32-6, 1991. [PUBMED Abstract]
- Corrado F, Ferri C, Mannini D, et al.: Transitional cell carcinoma of the upper urinary tract: evaluation of prognostic factors by histopathology and flow cytometric analysis. J Urol 145 (6): 1159-63, 1991. [PUBMED Abstract]