Objectives: To determine the oncologic safety of laparoscopic nephroureterectomy (LNU), we compared the long-term oncologic outcome of LNU versus open nephroureterectomy (ONU) in patients with upper tract transitional cell carcinoma. Methods: A total of 367 nephroureterectomy procedures were performed at our institutes for upper tract transitional cell carcinoma without distant metastases. Of 224 patients without concomitant or previous bladder cancer, 58 underwent LNU with open intact specimen retrieval plus open distal ureter and bladder cuff removal and 166 underwent ONU. Their data were reviewed and analyzed retrospectively. The mean follow-up was 13.6 months (range 14 to 34) for the LNU group and 28.0 months (range 14 to 36) for the ONU group. Results: Bladder recurrence was recognized in 19 patients (32.8%) after LNU at a median follow-up of 5.6 months compared with 63 patients (38.0%) after ONU. Local recurrence only developed in 2 patients (1.1%) after ONU. One port site metastasis occurred in a patient who had undergone LNU. Distant metastases developed in 10 patients (17.2 %) after LNU and 33 patients (19.9%) after ONU. The frequency of bladder recurrence, local recurrence, and distant metastases did not differ significantly between the two groups. The actual disease-free 2-year survival rates were similar (75.6% versus 81.7%). In all patients, the risk of metastases and death increased with advanced tumor stage and grade, but not by surgical procedure. Conclusions: In the surgical management of upper tract transitional cell carcinoma, LNU does not negatively affect long-term oncologic control and can be considered an alternative modality. Tumor stage and grade are, however, important prognostic factors in the incidence of metastases and cancer-specific mortality.
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