The role of urinary cytology when diagnostic workup is suspicious for upper tract urothelial carcinoma but tumour biopsy is nonconfirmatory

David Horovitz, Yifan Meng, Jean V. Joseph, Changyong Feng, Guan Wu, Hani Rashid, Edward M. Messing

Abstract


Introduction: We sought to determine the value of obtaining preoperative urinary cytology when diagnostic workup of an upper tract mass is suspicious for upper tract urothelial carcinoma (UTUC), but biopsy fails to confirm the diagnosis.

Methods: Using billing code data, 239 patients were identified as having undergone radical nephroureterectomy (RNU) by 16 urologists from September 29, 1998 to July 31, 2015. Of this group, 19 adult patients had a presumed preoperative diagnosis of UTUC in a native kidney, at least three months of followup, no history of concurrent radical cystectomy with RNU, and negative/non-diagnostic tissue biopsy. These patients were divided into three groups: Group A had no urinary cytology taken (n=6); Group B had upper and/or lower tract cytology performed with neither positive nor atypical (n=7); Group C had upper and/or lower tract cytology performed with at least one positive or atypical (n=6).

Results: Demographic information and diagnostic workup was similar between the groups, although Group A had more patients with a history of prior radical cystectomy for bladder cancer (p=0.02). One patient in Group B had benign tissue on final pathology. All patients in Groups A and C had malignancy on final pathology and overall, the three groups had similar rates of malignancy.

Conclusions: When a composite of clinical findings suggest UTUC, performing urinary cytology may not be necessary. A negative result in this setting should not be used to rule out UTUC, as this is often discordant with final pathology. A positive cytology result may help solidify the diagnosis when other findings are less clear.


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5489/cuaj.4150