Objectives: Several studies have shown that 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA)-induced fluorescence cystoscopy improves the detection of superficial bladder cancer. The results have suggested a reduced rate of recurrent tumors with the use of 5-ALA fluorescence before bladder tumor resection. We performed a prospective, randomized trial to investigate whether the long-term tumor recurrence and residual tumor rates can be decreased using 5-ALA fluorescence diagnosis (FD).
Methods: A total of 301 patients with suspected superficial bladder carcinoma were randomized to transurethral resection (TUR) using conventional white light (WL) or FD. TUR was repeated to evaluate the residual tumor rate. In addition, patients were followed up for a median of 83 (WL) and 86 (FD) months to evaluate recurrence-free survival (RFS).
Results: Of the 301 patients, 191 were available for the efficacy analysis. The residual tumor rate was 25.2% in the WL arm versus 4.5% in the FD arm (P <0.0001). The RFS rate after 2, 4, 6, and 8 years was 73%, 64%, 54%, and 45% in the WL group and 88%, 84%, 79%, and 71% in the FD group, respectively, revealing a statistically significant difference in favor of fluorescent TUR (P = 0.0003).
Conclusions: 5-ALA-induced FD is significantly superior statistically to conventional WL TUR with respect to the residual tumor rate and RFS. This advantage of decreased bladder tumor recurrence risk was maintained with high statistical significance for at least 8 years. The differences in RFS imply that FD offers a clinically relevant procedure to reduce the incidence of tumor recurrence.