Purpose: As shown in various studies 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA) induces fluorescence of malignant and dysplastic bladder tissue and increases tumor detection rates by about 20%. However, data on the long-term benefits are sparse. Thus, the 5-year outcome data of a prospective randomized trial comparing patients who initially underwent bladder tumor resection (TUR) under standard white light or with ALA induced fluorescence were evaluated.
Materials and methods: A total of 115 patients with suspected superficial bladder cancer were randomized to undergo standard or ALA assisted TUR. After the second look TUR at 6 weeks patients were followed for a median of 39 (standard) and 42 (ALA) months.
Results: Median time to first recurrence was 5 months in the standard and 12 months in the ALA group. Recurrence-free survival was 25% in the standard and 41% in the ALA group. The recurrence rate at 2, 12, 36 and 60 months after initial TUR was 41%, 61%, 73% and 75%, and 16%, 43%, 59% and 59% in the white light and ALA groups, respectively. The total number of recurrences was 82 in the standard and 61 in the ALA group. Tumor progression occurred in 9 patients in the standard and 4 in the ALA group. Cost analysis suggests a considerable economical advantage of ALA fluorescence assisted TUR compared to the standard procedure.
Conclusions: The initial advantage of improved tumor detection and decreased recurrence rates by ALA fluorescence assisted TUR is maintained for years, and effectively reduces morbidity and costs in patients with superficial bladder tumors.