Clinical, prognostic, and therapeutic aspects of urachal carcinoma-A comprehensive review with meta-analysis of 1,010 cases

Urol Oncol. 2016 Sep;34(9):388-98. doi: 10.1016/j.urolonc.2016.04.012. Epub 2016 Jun 3.


Background and objectives: Urachal carcinoma (UrC) is a rare and poorly investigated disease. Our current knowledge is mainly based on single-institutional studies. Despite growing interest in UrC, the included case numbers in recently published studies are still low. Therefore, we aimed to provide a comprehensive meta-analysis on the clinical, prognostic, and therapeutic aspects of UrC.

Methods: A systematic Medline/PubMed search was performed on UrC using the terms "urachal carcinoma," "urachal cancer," and "urachus." Original articles and reviews in English language with case numbers>10 were selected.

Results: The vast majority (91%, 489/532) of UrCs are diagnosed at later stages (Sheldon≥III) when the tumor invades the urinary bladder. About 21% (136/646) of UrC patients have distant metastasis at first presentation. Although for patients with non-metastatic UrC surgical treatment provides an acceptable disease control, the systemic treatment of patients with progressed/metastatic UrC-in lack of prospective clinical trials-are less well established. Comparing cisplatin-based and 5-FU-based therapies in 74 published UrC cases, we found the latter to be superior in terms of radiographic response rates (9% vs. 44%, P = 0.043), but the combination of these 2 therapies provided the lowest progression rate (14%) with a similarly high response rate (43%).

Conclusions: Owing to the lack of evidence-based guidelines, the therapy of UrC remains challenging. Given the infrequency of UrC, large prospective studies comparing different systemic therapies can hardly be conducted. Our metadata indicates that 5-FU-containing chemotherapy regimens are more effective than cisplatin-based treatment modalities, whereas their combination seems to provide the strongest antitumor effect. Nevertheless, in the lack of evidences from prospective clinical trials, therapeutic decision-making necessarily remains on an individual basis. In this situation, targeted therapies may provide a reasonable alternative. Therefore, better understanding of the molecular background of UrC is needed to rationalize treatment decisions in UrC.

Keywords: Chemotherapy; Prognosis; Therapy; Urachal cancer; Urachal carcinoma; Urachus.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Urachus / pathology*
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / therapy*

Supplementary concepts

  • Urachal cancer