High-grade papillary urothelial carcinoma of the urinary tract: a clinicopathologic analysis of a post-World Health Organization/International Society of Urological Pathology classification cohort from a single academic center

Hum Pathol. 2012 Jan;43(1):115-20. doi: 10.1016/j.humpath.2011.04.013. Epub 2011 Aug 4.


About one half of all bladder neoplasms are noninvasive, and in those, the histologic grade is a crucial prognosticator. Few single-center studies have assessed the recurrence, progression, and cancer-related mortality rates of noninvasive high-grade papillary urothelial carcinomas. With this aim, we evaluated the clinicopathologic and outcome features of 85 patients with high-grade papillary urothelial carcinoma. Median age was 68 years, and 80.5% were men. Tumor size ranged from 0.3 to 13.0 cm (median, 1.6 cm). Recurrence was found in 36.5% of the patients, whereas tumor progression, defined as invasion of lamina propria or beyond, was identified in 40% of all cases. When present, lesion reappearance involved mostly 1 to 2 episodes. Metastasis appeared in 20% of the patients, and 15% died of disseminated bladder cancer. All cancer-related deaths occurred in the group of patients with progression, whereas patients with recurrence showed similar outcomes to those with no recurrence. For patients with tumor progression, clinical stage was significantly associated with outcome (P = .002). As for prognosis, tumor size was strongly associated with progression (P < .01). In conclusion, recurrence, progression, and cancer-specific mortality rates were 36.5%, 40%, and 15%, respectively. All the patients who died of cancer had a history of tumor progression. Patients with recurrences showed similar outcomes to those with no recurrence. Tumor size was strongly associated with tumor progression and cancer-specific survival, whereas clinical stage was significantly associated with outcome in the progression group. In light of the high recurrence and progression rates of high-grade papillary urothelial carcinoma, strict clinical surveillance aimed to detect early recurrent lesions, especially in patients with larger tumors, is warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / classification
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / secondary*
  • Carcinoma, Transitional Cell / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Transitional Cell / secondary*
  • Carcinoma, Transitional Cell / surgery
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Maryland / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Survival Rate
  • Urologic Neoplasms / mortality
  • Urologic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Urologic Neoplasms / surgery
  • Urothelium / pathology*
  • World Health Organization