Purpose: To evaluate our long-term experience with patients treated uniformly with radical cystectomy and pelvic lymph node dissection for invasive bladder cancer and to describe the association of the primary bladder tumor stage and regional lymph node status with clinical outcomes.
Patients and methods: All patients undergoing radical cystectomy with bilateral pelvic iliac lymphadenectomy, with the intent to cure, for transitional-cell carcinoma of the bladder between July 1971 and December 1997, with or without adjuvant radiation or chemotherapy, were evaluated. The clinical course, pathologic characteristics, and long-term clinical outcomes were evaluated in this group of patients.
Results: A total of 1,054 patients (843 men [80%] and 211 women) with a median age of 66 years (range, 22 to 93 years) were uniformly treated. Median follow-up was 10.2 years (range, 0 to 28 years). There were 27 (2.5%) perioperative deaths, with a total of 292 (28%) early complications. Overall recurrence-free survival at 5 and 10 years for the entire cohort was 68% and 66%, respectively. The 5- and 10-year recurrence-free survival for patients with organ-confined, lymph node-negative tumors was 92% and 86% for P0 disease, 91% and 89% for Pis, 79% and 74% for Pa, and 83% and 78% for P1 tumors, respectively. Patients with muscle invasive (P2 and P3a), lymph node-negative tumors had 89% and 87% and 78% and 76% 5- and 10-year recurrence-free survival, respectively. Patients with nonorgan-confined (P3b, P4), lymph node-negative tumors demonstrated a significantly higher probability of recurrence compared with those with organ-confined bladder cancers (P <.001). The 5- and 10-year recurrence-free survival for P3b tumors was 62% and 61%, and for P4 tumors was 50% and 45%, respectively. A total of 246 patients (24%) had lymph node tumor involvement. The 5- and 10-year recurrence-free survival for these patients was 35%, and 34%, respectively, which was significantly lower than for patients without lymph node involvement (P <.001). Patients could also be stratified by the number of lymph nodes involved and by the extent of the primary bladder tumor (p stage). Patients with fewer than five positive lymph nodes, and whose p stage was organ-confined had significantly improved survival rates. Bladder cancer recurred in 311 patients (30%). The median time to recurrence among those patients in whom the cancer recurred was 12 months (range, 0.04 to 11.1 years). In 234 patients (22%) there was a distant recurrence, and in 77 patients (7%) there was a local (pelvic) recurrence.
Conclusion: These data from a large group of patients support the aggressive surgical management of invasive bladder cancer. Excellent long-term survival can be achieved with a low incidence of pelvic recurrence.