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Transitional Cell Cancer of the Renal Pelvis and Ureter Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Stage Information for Transitional Cell Cancer of the Renal Pelvis and Ureter

Table 4. Anatomic Stage/ Prognostic Groupsa

a Reprinted with permission from AJCC: Renal pelvis and ureter. In: Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, et al., eds.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2010, pp 491-6.
Any TN1M0
Any TN2M0
Any TN3M0
Any TAny NM1

Patients may also be designated as having localized, regional, or metastatic disease, as follows:


Patients with localized disease may be classified into three groups:

  • Group 1: Low-grade tumor confined to the urothelium without lamina propria invasion ("Papilloma" Grade I transitional cell cancer).
  • Group 2: Grade I–III carcinomas without demonstrable subepithelial invasion or focal microscopic invasion or papillary carcinomas with carcinoma in situ and/or carcinoma in situ elsewhere in the urothelium.
  • Group 3: High-grade tumors that have infiltrated the renal pelvic wall or renal parenchyma or both but are still confined to the kidney. Infiltration of muscle in the upper tract may not be associated with as much potential for distant dissemination as appears to be the case for bladder cancer.


  • Group 4: Extension of tumors beyond the renal pelvis or parenchyma and invasion of peripelvic and perirenal fat, lymph nodes, hilar vessels, and adjacent tissues.


  • Spread of the tumor to distant tissues.

Each of these classifications has been subclassified into categories of unicentricity or multicentricity. The latter category indicates a more pervasive tumor diathesis and generally a less favorable prognosis.

Although the classifications listed above have prognostic significance, they can only be determined at the time of nephroureterectomy, which is the treatment of choice for patients with this disease. Because of the high incidence of tumor recurrence within the intramural ureter among patients who have had incomplete excision of this area, nephroureterectomy should include the entire ureter and a margin of periureteral orifice mucosa (i.e., bladder cuff).

A TNM system for staging has been established and has demonstrated accurate predictions of survival. The TNM staging system may be a better predictor of prognosis than tumor grade, though both are strongly predictive of survival. Median survival for patients with tumors confined to the subepithelial connective tissue was 91.1 months compared to 12.9 months for patients with tumors invading the muscularis and beyond in one report. Flow cytometry analysis identifies low-stage, low-grade tumors at high risk of recurrence by virtue of their aneuploid histograms.[7,8]


  1. Grossman HB, Schwartz SL, Konnak JW: Ureteroscopic treatment of urothelial carcinoma of the ureter and renal pelvis. J Urol 148 (2 Pt 1): 275-7, 1992.
  2. Batata M, Grabstald H: Upper urinary tract urothelial tumors. Urol Clin North Am 3 (1): 79-86, 1976.
  3. Cummings KB, Correa RJ Jr, Gibbons RP, et al.: Renal pelvic tumors. J Urol 113 (2): 158-62, 1975.
  4. Nocks BN, Heney NM, Daly JJ, et al.: Transitional cell carcinoma of renal pelvis. Urology 19 (5): 472-7, 1982.
  5. Heney NM, Nocks BN, Daly JJ, et al.: Prognostic factors in carcinoma of the ureter. J Urol 125 (5): 632-6, 1981.
  6. Renal pelvis and ureter. In: Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, et al., eds.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2010, p 493.
  7. Huben RP, Mounzer AM, Murphy GP: Tumor grade and stage as prognostic variables in upper tract urothelial tumors. Cancer 62 (9): 2016-20, 1988.
  8. Blute ML, Tsushima K, Farrow GM, et al.: Transitional cell carcinoma of the renal pelvis: nuclear deoxyribonucleic acid ploidy studied by flow cytometry. J Urol 140 (5): 944-9, 1988.

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Last Updated: February 25, 2014
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