Transitional cell carcinoma of the renal pelvis, accounting for only 7% of all kidney tumors, and transitional cell cancer of the ureter, accounting for only 1 of every 25 upper tract tumors, are curable in more than 90% of patients if they are superficial and confined to the renal pelvis or ureter. Patients with deeply invasive tumors that are still confined to the renal pelvis or ureter have a 10% to 15% likelihood of cure. Patients with tumors with penetration through the urothelial wall or with distant metastases usually cannot be cured with currently available forms of treatment. The major prognostic factor at the time of diagnosis of upper tract transitional cell cancer is the depth of infiltration into or through the uroepithelial wall. However, even if ureteroscopy and pyeloscopy are successfully implemented, accurate assessment of depth of invasion is difficult. Therefore, total excision of the ureter with a bladder cuff, renal pelvis, and kidney is recommended in an attempt to provide the greatest likelihood of cure.
Most superficial tumors are likely to be well differentiated, while infiltrative tumors are likely to be poorly differentiated. The incidence of synchronous or metachronous contralateral upper tract cancers ranges from 2% to 4%; the incidence of subsequent bladder cancer after prior upper tract transitional cell cancer ranges from 30% to 50%. When involvement of the upper tract is diffuse (involving both the renal pelvis and ureter), the likelihood of subsequent development of bladder cancer increases to 75%. DNA ploidy has not added significant prognostic information beyond that provided by stage and grade.
For more information from the National Cancer Institute about transitional cell cancer of the renal pelvis and ureter, see the following:
Transitional Cell Cancer (Kidney/Ureter) Home Page
Smoking Home Page (Includes help with quitting)
For general cancer information and other resources from the National Cancer Institute, see the following:
What You Need to Know About™ Cancer
Understanding Cancer Series: Cancer
Chemotherapy and You: Support for People With...