How to manage patients with suspected upper tract urothelial carcinoma in the pandemic of COVID-19?

The pandemic of COVID-19 has disrupted the clinical pathway for patients with suspected upper tract urothelial carcinoma (UTUC). This aims to investigate the optimal management of UTUC during the pandemic by determining 1) Whether a three-month delay of RNU leads to worsened overall survival, 2) Whether radical nephroureterectomy (RNU) can be performed without prior diagnostic ureteroscopy (URS).

Consecutive patients with RNU performed for suspected UTUC in four hospitals in Hong Kong and Taiwan were included. Patients with histologically proven UTUC and with RNU performed within one year were dichotomized into early (≤3 months) and delayed (>3 months) RNU groups. Diagnostic performances of predictive models based on pre-URS factors (gross haematuria, suspicious or malignant urine cytology, and filling defect or contrast-enhancing mass on computed tomography), with or without URS, were analysed using receiver operating characteristics and area under curve (AUC). Overall survival was analysed using Kaplan-Meier method and multivariate Cox regression analysis.

Between 2000 and 2019, 665 patients underwent RNU, and 491 of them had prior diagnostic URS. The early RNU group had a better overall survival (P = 0.015). Early RNU was associated with a better overall survival upon multivariate analysis (HR 1.55, 95% CI 1.03-2.33, P = 0.035). Large tumour size, multi-focal tumour, T2 or above disease, and positive nodal status were associated with a poorer overall survival. A combination of any 2 out of the 3 pre-URS factors achieved a positive predictive value of 99.5 to 100%. Presence of all 3 pre-URS factors achieved an AUC of 0.851 with URS, and AUC of 0.809 without URS.

A delay of RNU for over 3 months was associated with poorer overall survival and has to be avoided despite the current COVID-19. We can also consider direct RNU based on clinical factors alone. This also avoids URS hospitalization and expedites the clinical pathway of UTUC.

Urologic oncology. 2021 Jun 17 [Epub ahead of print]

Hsiang-Ying Lee, Erica On-Ting Chan, Ching-Chia Li, David Leung, Wei-Ming Li, Hsin-Chih Yeh, Peter Ka-Fung Chiu, Hung-Lung Ke, Chi-Hang Yee, Joseph Hon-Ming Wong, Chi-Fai Ng, Jeremy Yuen-Chun Teoh, Wen-Jeng Wu

Urology Department, Kaohsiung Municipal Ta-Tung Hospital, Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Graduate Institute of Clinical Medicine, College of Medicine, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Department of Urology, Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital, Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Department of Urology, School of Medicine, College of Medicine, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan., S.H. Ho Urology Centre, Department of Surgery, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China., Department of Urology, Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital, Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Department of Urology, School of Medicine, College of Medicine, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan., Department of Urology, Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital, Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Department of Urology, School of Medicine, College of Medicine, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Department of Urology, Ministry of Health and Welfare Pingtung Hospital, Pingtung, Taiwan., Urology Department, Kaohsiung Municipal Ta-Tung Hospital, Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Department of Urology, Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital, Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Department of Urology, School of Medicine, College of Medicine, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan., S.H. Ho Urology Centre, Department of Surgery, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China. Electronic address: ., Department of Urology, Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital, Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Department of Urology, School of Medicine, College of Medicine, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Electronic address: .

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