Imaging in Localized Bladder Cancer: Can Current Diagnostic Modalities Provide Accurate Local Tumor Staging?

Local tumor staging is paramount in the evaluation and management of bladder cancer. While neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) followed by radical cystectomy and urinary diversion remains the gold standard for management of muscle-invasive bladder cancer, bladder-sparing regimens involving systemic chemotherapy and pelvic radiotherapy remain a viable option for select patients. Moreover, pre-cystectomy identification of patients with a complete response to NAC may obviate the need for radical cystectomy, but accurate post-therapy staging can be difficult to achieve. Contemporary imaging techniques may provide additional benefit in local tumor staging beyond standard imaging and cystoscopic biopsy. Our purpose is to summarize the ability of different imaging modalities to accurately stage bladder cancer patients in the treatment-naïve and post-chemotherapy settings.

Contemporary investigations have been studying multiparametric magnetic resonance imaging (mp-MRI) in the evaluation of bladder cancer. Its recent incorporation into bladder cancer staging is mainly being assessed in treatment-naïve patients; however, different sequences are being studied to assess their accuracy after the introduction of chemotherapy and possibly radiation. Multiple recent studies incorporating cystoscopy and biopsy are proving to be less accurate than originally predicted. Imaging has generally had a very limited role in guiding therapy in localized bladder cancer, but with the incorporation of newer sequences and techniques, imaging is poised to become vital in decision-making strategies of this cancer. Reliable local tumor staging through improved imaging may help better select patients for bladder-sparing treatments while maintaining optimized oncologic outcomes and allow this paradigm to become more acceptable in the urologic oncology community.

Current urology reports. 2019 Nov 28*** epublish ***

Sandeep Gurram, Akhil Muthigi, Jillian Egan, Lambros Stamatakis

Urologic Oncology Branch, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Building 10, Room 1-5940 W, Bethesda, MD, 20892, USA., Department of Urology, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, 3800 Reservoir Road NW, Washington, DC, 20007, USA., Department of Urology, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, 3800 Reservoir Road NW, Washington, DC, 20007, USA. .