Optimal Management of Upper Tract Urothelial Carcinoma: an Unmet Need

Curr Treat Options Oncol. 2019 Apr 1;20(5):40. doi: 10.1007/s11864-019-0637-2.


Upper tract urothelial carcinoma (UTUC) is a rare genitourinary entity of the renal pelvis and the ureter characterized by a more aggressive disease phenotype when compared with urothelial carcinoma of the bladder (UCB) with more than half of UTUC cases presenting with invasive disease at diagnosis compared to 20% for bladder tumors. There is growing evidence suggesting that its distinct natural history from that of bladder cancer can be related to several genetic and epigenetic differences. Treatment of low-risk disease consists of kidney-sparing surgeries such as ureteroscopic and percutaneous treatments, segmental ureterectomy, and adjuvant topical and intracavitary chemo-immunotherapies. The standard of care for high-risk non-metastatic disease remains radical nephroureterectomy and bladder cuff excision with increasing utilization rates of minimally invasive approaches leading to reduced morbidity without compromising outcomes while the role of lymphadenectomy is still being investigated. The prognosis of UTUC has been stagnant over the past decade highlighting the need for further studies on the role of multimodal therapy (neoadjuvant/adjuvant chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy) to optimize management and improve outcomes.

Keywords: Adjuvant chemo-immunotherapy; Kidney-sparing surgery; Minimally invasive surgery; Radical nephroureterectomy; Systemic therapy; Upper tract urothelial carcinoma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Combined Modality Therapy / adverse effects
  • Combined Modality Therapy / methods
  • Disease Management
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Grading
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Urologic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Urologic Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Urologic Neoplasms / etiology
  • Urologic Neoplasms / therapy*