Purpose: Upper tract urothelial cancer is rare but studies in the 1970s showed that its incidence was increasing. We evaluated national trends of the incidence and survival of upper tract urothelial neoplasms from 1973 to 1996.
Material and methods: We obtained information on upper tract urothelial neoplasms from 1973 to 1996 from the National Cancer Institute Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results program. To provide a time comparison we evaluated upper tract urothelial cancer from 1973 to 1984 and 1985 to 1996. We also calculated overall disease specific survival stratified by cancer stage, patient race and gender for the study period overall.
Results: A total of 9,072 cases of upper tract urothelial cancer were identified in the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results program from 1973 to 1996, including 5,379 of the renal pelvis and 3,678 of the ureter. Comparing age adjusted annual incidence rates revealed an increase in ureteral neoplasms from 0.69 to 0.73/100,000 person-years but no change in the incidence of renal pelvic tumors, while the rate of in situ neoplasms increased from 7. 2% to 23.1%. Overall disease specific 5-year survival was significantly different in regard to tumor stage (95.1% in situ, 88. 9% localized, 62.6% regional and 16.5% distant lesions). Disease specific annual mortality was greater in black than in white individuals and in women than in men (7.4% versus 4.9% and 6.1% versus 4.4%, respectively).
Conclusions: There appears to have been a slight increase in the national incidence of ureteral tumors in the last 23 years. Fortunately we also detected a slight improvement in the overall disease specific survival of patients with upper tract neoplasms.