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Highlights from the Urological Association of Asia Annual Congress 2017

Having trained and worked in London throughout my urology career, I have recently relocated and joined the exciting, dynamic urology community of my birthplace, Hong Kong. Coincidentally, it so happens to be this year’s host of the Urological Association of Asia (UAA) annual congress #UAA2017.

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The beautiful and mesmerising night view of the Victoria Harbour of Hong Kong.

Established in 1990 in Fukuoka, Japan, the #UAA currently has 25 urological associations as members or affiliated members across Asia and Australasia with and over 25,000 members. This was my attendance at the #UAA and it most certainly did not disappoint. What made the conference even more special was the chance to meet up with my good friend and ex-colleague from Guy’s Hospital @nairajesh – both of us were honoured to speak at the meeting. With over 1600 delegates attending the meeting and over 500 scientific abstracts presented, the congress served as an excellent platform for knowledge exchange and the establishment of professional links with many urological greats in Asia and beyond.

 

Pre #UAA2017 Congress Activities

#UAA2017 started off with a pre-congress ‘wet-lab’ 3D laparoscopic skills and endourology workshop hosted by @HKUniversity and the European School of Urology @UrowebESU. Both transperitoneal laparoscopic and retroperitoneoscopic techniques were taught by eminent leaders and pioneers in minimally invasive urological surgery by faculties from Europe, India and China, including Professor Jens Rassweiller, Professor Christian Schwentner (@Schwenti1977), Dr Domenico Veneziano (@d_veneziano), Professor Janak Desai (@drjanajddesai), and Professor Zhang Shudong.

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Joint UAA-ESU 3D laparoscopic and endourological skills course faculties. Left to right: Dr Ada Ng (Hong Kong), Dr Wayne Lam @WayneLam_Urol (Hong Kong), Professor Janek Desai @drjanajddesai (India), Professor Jens Rassweiller (Germany), Professor MK Yiu (Hong Kong), Dr James Tsu (Hong Kong), Dr WK Ma (Hong Kong).

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Joint UAA-ESU 3D Laparoscopic skills workshop – Above: Professor Rassweiller (Germany) supervising overseas delegates. Below: Professor MK Yiu (Hong Kong) demonstrating techniques of laparoscopic suturing to delegates from China.

The renal cell carcinoma #RCC masterclass was a particular highlight. A whole day of excellent lectures and speakers entertained both local and international delegates, and was particularly popular with trainees. There were talks examining the role of percutaneous biopsy of renal tumours presented by Alessandro Volpe (@foxal72), an update of current trends and techniques in robotic and laparoscopic partial nephrectomy by Dr. Joseph Wong (Hong Kong) and Dr. Shuo Wang (China) and a fantastic discussion examining the role of non-clamping partial nephrectomy by Dr. Ringo Chu (Hong Kong). The afternoon session kicked off with @nairajesh giving a comprehensive review on the surgical management of advanced #RCC. Professor Axel Bex (Netherlands) continued with an examination of neoadjuvant and adjuvant systemic therapy in #RCC and the emerging role of #immunotherapy. Professor Alessandro Volpe (@foxal72) discussed the current #EAU guidelines and recent updates.

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Masterclass in #RCC: @foxal72 , @nairajesh , Professor Axel Bex (Netherlands), with moderators Dr Ringo Chu (Hong Kong) and Dr Joseph Wong (Hong Kong).

 

Day 1 of #UAA2017

The plenary session on day 1 of #UAA started off with Professor Zengnan Mo from China on the epidemiology of prostate cancer in Asia. There is, not surprisingly, a very diverse range of incidence of #prostatecancer rate across the largest continent in the world, inevitably effected by the presence of #PSA screening in countries such as Japan and Korea, ethnicity (East Asia vs Middle East), genetics (Israeli Jewish population), and their local healthcare system and policies. Arguably the currently available #prostatecancer screening trials may not be applicable to the Asian populations, and various on-going studies in Japan and China are going to address these issues. One in particular is an ongoing population-based study funded by the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology, in which over 50,000 men will be recruited into the screening, early detection, localised, and advanced #prostatecancer cohorts and to be followed up with time. Obviously, we will not expect to see the results of the trial anytime soon, but will surely answers to address the behaviour of prostate cancer in the Asian population in the future.

Professor Sam Cheng (@UroCancerMD) from Vanderbilt University then gave a comprehensive review on the current status of #cystectomy. Robotic cystectomy appears to have the benefit of reduced blood loss and length of stay. However, long-term oncological outcome still remains uncertain, and certainly, patient reported outcome measures (PROMs) is lacking.

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Day 2 of #UAA2017

After early showers on day 2 of UAA, Hong Kong was heating up with temperatures over 33 degrees Celsius. So were the discussions in the plenary session in the morning. Professor Freddie Hamdy (@Freddie_Hamdy) gave the #EAU lecture on #activesurveillance for #prostatecancer. This was followed on nicely with the current status of #prostatecancer management in Hong Kong by Dr. Yau-Tung Chan and Dr. Gerhardt Attard (UK) enlightened the audience with a concise update in the management of hormone sensitive prostate cancer, an area where the landscape is ever-changing.

The advanced oncology session started off with a heated debate in the use of mass clamping (Dr Ringo Chu, Hong Kong) versus selective artery clamping in partial nephrectomy (Dr Tae-Gyun Kwon, Korea). Both speakers presented with very valid arguments and perhaps it was fair to say it ended up with all square. Professor Krishna Sethia (UK) gave a fascinating summary of the current local management of #penilecancer at centralised penile cancer centres in the UK, after which I was honoured to provide an update on current nodal management in #penilecancer from my recent experience at St George’s University Hospitals @StGeorgesTrust in the UK. It was exciting to see the centralisation of services in #penilecancer in the UK has given great opportunities to understand and optimise management of patients with such rare disease.

The Semi-live sessions entertained the audience on both days of the conference. Excellent videos were presented throughout. Professor Koon Rha of Yonsei University in South Korea gave a fantastic semi-live talk on his tricks and techniques of Retzius-space sparing Robot-assisted radical prostatectomy. Perhaps what’s even more exciting to know is that a Korean company has produced a new robot for surgery which has been well tested by Professor Rha’s group, which has just literally been licenced and approved in Korea just days before #UAA2017. Will this finally drive the cost of robotic surgery down? Time will tell.

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Associate Professor Declan Murphy (@declanmurphy) and Mr. Rajesh Nair (@nairajesh) both contributed with a beautiful video showcasing techniques in total pelvic exenteration and long-term outcomes of urinary diversion and reconstruction in this cohort of patients.

The Gala dinner in the evening was full of fun and entertainment. Following the performance of a soprano quartet formed by local Hong Kong urologists (who sang the classic My Way with a twist on prostate examination!), the rock stars of urology – Professor Jens Rassweiller, Dr Samuel Yee from Hong Kong, and Dr Domenico Veneziano (@d_veneziano) provided an energetic and electrifying live performance of some rock classics!

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Urology Rock N’ Roll! Left to right: Professor Jens Rassweiller (Germany), Dr Domenico Veneziano (Italy), Dr Samuel Yee (Hong Kong).

However, perhaps the highlight and the most touching moment of the evening the performance of a song written and sung by a young local former patient with a history of #ketaminebladder , who was successfully treated by the urology team lead by Professor Anthony Ng at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Hong Kong. His surgery and treatment has transformed his life – he is now enjoying a career as both a singer-songwriter of a rock band and as a footballer!

 

Day 3 of #UAA2017

The morning plenary session also saw the evergreen Dr Peggy Chu of Hong Kong, renown for her discovery of ketamine-associated uropathy and pioneered the management of this challenging 21st century urological disease.

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Left to right: Dr CW Man (Hong Kong), Congress President of #UAA2017, and Dr Peggy Chu (Hong Kong).

She delivered a very interesting talk on revisiting the role of #gastrocystoplasty. Interestingly, the operation was first described and carried out in human by the honourable Professor CH Leong at my current institution, Queen Mary Hospital @HKUniversity , in the 1970s following a successful animal study at the same institution. Its use has been limited due to its associated metabolic disturbances, but arguably it is still a weapon that can be used when tackling patients with tuberculosis-associated severely contracted bladder, in particular those who have already been rendered to have a single solitary kidney due to the disease. Another situation when #gastrocystoplasty can still be considered are those patients with #ketamine uropathy. Although patients are usually required to be completely abstinence from #ketamine abuse for a certain lengthy period of time before they are eligible for surgical treatment, many fear the avalanche effect of ileal re-absorption of the drug if an ileo-cystoplasty has been carried out in these patients, if they happen to resume ketamine use in the future. Hence, #gastrocystoplasty may be a better substitution tissue for cystoplasty in the management of such patients.

The meeting also provided an opportunity to catch up with fellow Guy’s Hospital urology graduates @nairajesh and @declanmurphy over a cold pint of Hong Kong locally made #MoonzenBeer, when the temperature outside the conference centre was hitting 34 degrees Celsius!

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Left to right: Dr Wayne Lam (Hong Kong), Mr Rajesh Nair (Australia/United Kingdom), A/Prof Declan Murphy (Australia).

All credits to #UAA and the local organisers’ immense effort and hard work, making this congress a valuable learning experience for everyone who participated. We very much look forward to #UAA2018. Bring on Kyoto, Japan!

 

 

Wayne Lam

Assistant Professor in Urology, Queen Mary Hospital, University of Hong Kong

Twitter: @WayneLam_Urol

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Rajesh Nair

Fellow in Robotic Surgery and Uro-Oncology

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Changing the LATITUDE of Treatment for High-Risk Hormone-Naïve Prostate Cancer: STAMPEDE-ing Towards Androgen Biosynthesis Inhibition

zach-klaassenEarlier this month at the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting in Chicago, IL, Dr. Karim Fizazi and Dr. Nicholas James (@Prof_Nick_James) presented results from the LATITUDE and STAMPEDE trials, respectively. These randomized controlled trials (RCTs) assessed the utility of adding abiraterone acetate (AA) + prednisone to conventional androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) among men with high-risk, hormone-naïve prostate cancer. Since Dr. Charles Huggins’ 1941 Nobel prize winning finding that ADT is highly effective in controlling metastatic prostate cancer, nearly 70 years passed before CHAARTED and STAMPEDE demonstrated in 2015 that the addition of docetaxel to ADT prolongs survival in men with high volume metastatic prostate cancer. The de novo metastatic prostate cancer global incidence is striking: 3% in the US and rising, 6% across Europe, 4-10% in Latin America, and nearly 60% in Asia-Pacific. Historically, ADT has been standard of care, however most men with metastases progress to metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) driven by the reactivation of androgen receptor (AR) signaling. The rationale for adding AA + prednisone to ADT for metastatic hormone-naïve prostate cancer patients is threefold: (i) the mechanism of resistance to ADT may develop early, (ii) ADT alone does not inhibit androgen synthesis by the adrenal glands or prostate cancer cells, and (iii) AA + prednisone improves overall survival (OS) in mCRPC patients and reduces tumor burden in high-risk, localized prostate cancer.

LATITUDE

LATITUDE was conducted at 235 sites in 34 countries in Europe, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, and Canada. The objectives of the study were to evaluate the addition of AA + prednisone to ADT on clinical benefit in men with newly diagnosed, high-risk, metastatic hormone-naïve prostate cancer. Patients were stratified by the presence of visceral disease (yes/no) and ECOG performance status (0, 1 vs 2) and then randomized 1:1 to either ADT + AA (1000 mg daily) + prednisone (5 mg) (n=597) or ADT + placebo (n=602). The co-primary endpoints were OS and radiographic progression-free survival (rPFS). Secondary endpoints included time to: (i) pain progression, (ii) PSA progression, (iii) next symptomatic skeletal event, (iv) chemotherapy, and (v) subsequent prostate cancer therapy. The study was powered to detect an HR of 0.67 and 0.81 in favor of AA for rPFS and OS, respectively.
Over a median follow-up of 30.4 months, patients treated with ADT + AA + prednisone had a 38% risk reduction of death (HR 0.62, 95%CI 0.51-0.76) compared to ADT + placebo.

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Median OS was not yet reached in the ADT + AA + prednisone arm compared to 34.7 months in the ADT + placebo arm. OS rates at 3 years for the ADT + AA + prednisone arm was 66%, compared to 49% in the ADT + placebo arm. This OS benefit was consistently favorable across all subgroups including ECOG 0 and 1-2, visceral metastases, Gleason ≥8 disease, and bone lesions >10.

There was also 53% risk of reduction of radiographic progression or death for patients treated with ADT + AA + prednisone (median 33.0 months; HR 0.47, 95%CI 0.39-0.55) compared to ADT + placebo (14.8 months).

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Secondary endpoints showed statistically significant improvement for ADT + AA + prednisone, including time to PSA progression (HR 0.30, 95%CI 0.26-0.35), time to pain progression (HR 0.70, 95%CI 0.58-0.83), time to next symptomatic skeletal event (HR 0.70, 95%CI 0.54-0.92), time to chemotherapy (HR 0.44, 95%CI 0.35-0.56), and time to subsequent prostate cancer therapy (HR 0.42, 95%CI 0.35-0.50).

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Secondary to the results presented at ASCO, the study was discontinued after the first interim analysis. Adverse events were comparable in the two groups. Hypertension only rarely required treatment discontinuation, and only two patients discontinued treatment due to hypokalemia (no hypokalemia-related deaths). Two patients in each arm died of cerebrovascular events, and 10 patients treated with ADT + AA + prednisone compared to 6 patients treated with ADT + placebo died of cardiac disorders.

STAMPEDE

STAMPEDE is a large multi-stage, multi-arm, RCT being conducted in the United Kingdom to assess the utility of novel therapeutic agents in conjunction with ADT. Currently being tested are AA, enzalutamide, zoledronic acid, docetaxol, celecoxib and radiotherapy (RT). The AA arm of the study was presented at ASCO as a late-breaking abstract. Inclusion criteria included men with locally advanced or metastatic prostate cancer, including newly diagnosed with N1 or M1 disease, or any two of the following: stage T3/4, PSA ≥ 40 ng/mL, or Gleason score 8-10. Patients undergoing prior radical prostatectomy or RT were eligible if they had more than one of the following: PSA ≥ 4 ng/mL and PSADT < 6 months, PSA ≥ 20 ng/mL, N1, or M1 disease. Patients were then randomized 1:1 to standard of care (SOC; ADT for ≥2 years, n=957) vs SOC + AA (1000 mg) + prednisone 5 mg daily (n=960). Treatment with RT was mandated in patients with N0M0 disease, while strongly encouraged for N1M0 patients. Primary outcomes were OS and failure-free survival (FFS), where failure was defined as PSA failure, local failure, lymph node failure, distant metastases or prostate cancer death. Secondary outcome included toxicity and skeletal-related events (SREs). The study was powered to detect a 25% improvement in OS for the treatment group (requiring 267 control arm mortalities).
Both groups were balanced and patients were predominantly metastatic (52% M1, 20% N+M0, 28% N0M0), median was PSA 53 ng/mL, and 99% were treated with LHRH analogues. Over a median follow-up of 40 months, there were 262 control arm deaths, of which 82% were prostate cancer-related; there were 184 deaths in the SOC + AA + prednisone arm. There was a 37% relative improvement in overall survival (HR 0.63, 95%CI 0.52-0.76) favoring SOC + AA + prednisone.

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A Forrest plot split on stratification factors demonstrated no evidence of heterogeneity based on any of the factors, including M0/M1 status (p=0.37). Second, SOC+AA + prednisone demonstrated a 71% improvement in FFS (HR 0.29, 95%CI 0.25-0.34), with an early split in the KM curves.

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SOC + AA + prednisone also significantly decreased SREs among the entire cohort (HR 0.46, 95%CI 0.37-0.58), as well as specifically in the M1 cohort (HR 0.45, 95%CI 0.37-0.58). This resulted in a 55% reduction in SREs in the M1 subset analysis.

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When looking at treatment progression, 89% of the SOC arm went on to next line of therapy, whereas 79% of the SOC + AA + prednisone arm received additional therapy, most commonly docetaxel. As expected, the rate of Grade 3-5 adverse events was higher in the SOC + AA prednisone arm (47% vs. 33%), and were primarily cardiovascular (HTN, MI, cardiac dysrhythmias) or hepatic (transaminitis) in nature.

REACTION, INTERPRETATION & FUTURE DIRECTIONS

As has become the norm during academic conferences, there was significant buzz on Twitter over the course of the two days these results were presented:

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This also included the New England Journal of Medicine immediately tweeting after the presentations that LATITUDE and STAMPEDE were published instantaneously:

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Furthermore, immediately following Dr. Fizazi’s presentation of LATITUDE, Dr. Eric Small from @UCSF presented a discussion of LATITUDE. A number of important points were raised. First, although this was a well-designed, placebo controlled, randomized phase III study, early unblinding (although appropriate) resulting in an HR of 0.62 for OS is based on only 50% of the targeted total deaths. Making conclusions based on interim analyses must be made with caution. However, with every endpoint reaching statistical significance and conditional probability modeling, if the study had remained blinded, the probability of reaching the same conclusions is high. Second, since twice as many patients in the ADT + placebo arm received life-prolonging therapy than compared to the ADT + AA + placebo arm, the benefit of AA is not explained by more secondary life-prolonging therapy, strengthening the cause for AA + ADT.

Perhaps the most interesting and pertinent clinical comparison is assessing outcomes of the LATITUDE and CHAARTED (high-volume disease) treatment arms (AA vs docetaxel). With similar median OS outcomes between the ADT control arms of the two trials (suggesting similar populations), the HRs for OS based on treatment are nearly identical:

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Similarly, the rPFS outcomes were comparable between the two trials:

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With nearly identical OS and rPFS outcomes for men receiving ADT + AA or ADT + docetaxel, the question becomes whether the impact of adding AA to ADT is volume or risk dependent. Results from the STAMPEDE trial would suggest remarkably similar outcomes support the use of AA + ADT in patients with less burden of disease. Arguably the most important slide of the meeting was captured and tweeting by Dr. Agarwal (@neerajaiims):

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Dr. Small eloquently summarized future directions into two groups. Unanswered questions regarding efficacy include: (i) Can a genomic classifier be used to select patients more likely to benefit from AA or docetaxel? (ii) Can AA be added in even earlier settings (with radiation? Increasing PSAs?) (iii) Should AA and docetaxel be combined or used sequentially? Additionally, there are also unanswered questions regarding AA resistance, including (i) Will the mechanisms of resistance to AA be the same when used in the non-mCRPC setting? (ii) Will androgen receptor amplification still be observed? (iii) Will there be an increased risk of treatment-associated small cell/neuroendocrine prostate cancer? (iv) Does adding chemotherapy or AA to ADT result in more aggressive disease at the time of resistance? (v) What is the optimal therapy for a patient who progresses on ADT + AA, compared to a patient who progresses on ADT + docetaxel? Given the avoidance of potential chemotherapy related side effects (ie. neutropenic complications) for an oral, long-term treatment, AA + ADT should be considered standard of care for untreated, high-risk metastatic prostate cancer.

But what is the long-term economic landscape like when practice changing trials such as LATITUE and STAMPEDE suddenly thrust an expensive medication such as AA + prednisone directly to the forefront of hormone-naïve disease? Following these presentations, urologic oncologist, Twitter veteran, and Forbes correspondent Dr. Ben Davies (@daviesbj) wrote a provocative piece highlighting the potential ‘financial toxicity’ (particularly in the United States) that may result downstream of these trials:

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A conservative estimate is a wholesale cost of $115,000 per year per patient for AA + prednisone, resulting in a crude estimate of a $2.8 billion annual expenditure for the drug in the United States alone if used in the hormone-naïve setting, according to Dr. Davies. As Dr. Davies also points outs, although the patent for AA expired in 2016 and there are currently 13 applications to make generic AA, the patent for prednisone lasts until 2027, with $30 billion riding on the lawsuit. Dr. David Penson (@urogeek) succinctly summarized via Twitter:

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Strictly academically speaking, LATITUDE and STAMPEDE, in addition to the docetaxel benefits of CHAARTED, have provided clinicians with exciting Level 1 evidence for improving patient care in the high-risk/metastatic setting. The investigators and more importantly the thousands of patients and families are to be thanked and congratulated for their perseverance, hard-work, and willingness to participate in these practice-changing clinical trials. It is our job as clinicians to continue advocating the best treatment for our patients, whether this be through economic barriers in the United States, or access to appropriate care on a global scale.

 

Zach Klaassen, MD

Urologic Oncology Fellow

University of Toronto/Princess Margaret Cancer Centre

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

@zklaassen_md

 

Article of the Week: LCA – EuRECA study

Every week the Editor-in-Chief selects an Article of the Week from the current issue of BJUI. The abstract is reproduced below and you can click on the button to read the full article, which is freely available to all readers for at least 30 days from the time of this post.

In addition to the article itself, there is an accompanying editorial written by a prominent member of the urological community. This blog is intended to provoke comment and discussion and we invite you to use the comment tools at the bottom of each post to join the conversation.

If you only have time to read one article this week, it should be this one.

Oncological outcomes and complication rates after laparoscopic-assisted cryoablation: a European Registry for Renal Cryoablation (EuRECA) multi-institutional study

Tommy K. Nielsen*, Brunolf W. Lagerveld, Francis Keeley, Giovanni Lughezzani§Seshadri Sriprasad, Neil J. Barber**, Lars U. Hansen*,††, Nicole M. Buf§Giorgio Guazzoni§, Johan A. van der Zee, Mohamed Ismail, Khaled Farrag,Amr M. Emara**,‡‡, Lars Lund††,§§, Øyvind Østraat* and Michael Borre*

 

*Department of Urology, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, Denmark, Department of Urology, Onze Lieve Vrouwe Gasthuis, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Bristol Urological Institute, Bristol, UK, §Department of Urology, Istituto Clinico Humanitas IRCCS, Clinical and Research Hospital, Milano, Rozzano, Italy, Department of Urology, Darent Vally Hospital, Dartford, **Department of Urology, Frimley Park Hospital, Camberley, UK, ††Department of Urology, Odense University Hospital, Odense, Denmark, ‡‡Department of Urology, Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt, and §§Department of Urology, Viborg Regional Hospital, Viborg, Denmark

 

Abstract

Objective

To assess complication rates and intermediate oncological outcomes of laparoscopic-assisted cryoablation (LCA) in patients with small renal masses (SRMs).

Patients and Methods

A retrospective review of 808 patients treated with LCA for T1a SRMs from 2005 to 2015 at eight European institutions. Complications were analysed according to the Clavien–Dindo classification. Kaplan–Meier analyses were used to estimate 5- and 10-year disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS).

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Results

The median [interquartile (IQR)] age was 67 (58–74) years. The median (IQR) tumour size was 25 (19–30) mm. The transperitoneal approach was used in 77.7% of the patients. The median postoperative hospital stay was 2 days. In all, 514 patients with a biopsy-confirmed renal cell carcinoma (RCC) were available for survival analyses. The median (IQR) follow-up for the RCC-cohort was 36 (14–56) months. A total of 32 patients (6.2%) were diagnosed with treatment failure. The 5-/10-year DFS was 90.4%/80.0% and 5-/10-year OS was 83.2%/64.4%, respectively. A total of 134 postoperative complications (16.6%) were reported, with severe complications (grade ≥III) in 26 patients (3.2%). An American Society of Anesthesiologists score of 3 was associated with an increased risk of overall complications (odds ratio 2.85, 95% confidence interval 1.32–6.20; P = 0.005).

Conclusions

This large series of LCA demonstrates satisfactory long-term oncological outcomes for SRMs. However, although LCA is considered a minimally invasive procedure, risk of complications should be considered when counselling patients.

Editorial: Laparoscopic renal mass cryoablation: an operation in search of an indication

In this issue of BJUI, Nielsen et al. [1] report the oncological and surgical outcomes from a multi-institutional cohort of patients receiving laparoscopic cryoablation (LCA) as primary therapy for solitary renal masses <4 cm in size (cT1a). This work represents the latest addition to a growing body of literature in an important oncological space that lacks prospective/randomized evidence to guide practitioners counselling patients with kidney cancer. Although the article does not advance the discussion toward higher levels of evidence, the results are nonetheless provocative and several strengths and weaknesses deserve comment.

While nephron-sparing surgery has become the recognized standard of care for cT1a renal lesions [2, 3], the reality remains that certain patients carry unacceptable risk profiles for partial nephrectomy, making less invasive options preferable. Such indications might include being elderly or frail, having hereditary kidney cancer syndromes prone to metachronous renal tumours, or having a solitary kidney. For such patients, focal renal mass ablative techniques have emerged as a safe alternative to extirpation that avoids the permanent nephron loss associated with radical nephrectomy. From an oncological perspective, however, cryotherapy, radiofrequency ablation and microwave ablation (by any approach) all have yet to be studied against partial nephrectomy in a prospective fashion. Numerous retrospective analyses have attempted to fill the void [4], yet the general consensus among most academic kidney surgeons is that renal mass ablation offers acceptable but inferior cancer control compared with surgery [5].

In this retrospective analysis by Nielsen et al., 808 patients underwent LCA between 2005 and 2015, 514 (63.4%) of whom had pre-procedural biopsy-proven RCC. The principal findings described in the present study include not only 5- and 10-year disease-free and overall survival, but also morbidity and mortality outcomes after LCA. The authors should be commended for the structure of their design, which included a high proportion of patients with available preoperative biopsy data. Additionally, clear definitions of treatment success, ‘residual unablated tumour’ and ‘local tumour progression’ are provided, and consistent follow-up imaging protocols were employed by the institutions involved. In each of these ways, Nielsen et al. overcome many of the pitfalls that have clouded the interpretation of results from previous reports.

Nevertheless, the oncological outcomes reported in this study, which are on a par with those for partial nephrectomy as well as other ablative techniques, must be approached with a degree of skepticism. As there is no alternative treatment cohort included in the study, omission of anatomical complexity data (in the form of nephrometry scoring) prohibits any meaningful comparison with patients having undergone ablative procedures or partial nephrectomy from other series. Availability of these data is essential for the reader to gauge the influence of selection bias in the interpretation of the results.

From a morbidity and mortality standpoint, the reported 16% overall complication rate, 3% rate of severe complications (defined as Clavien III–V) and three deaths within 30 days of the procedure might have been strengthened by the missing nephrometry data, as the rate of complications would be expected to increase with the complexity of the renal mass [6]. Also noticeably absent from the analysis are granular comorbidity and previous surgery data, both of which intuitively predispose patients to complications when undergoing minimally invasive surgery.

With these limitations in mind, the experienced kidney surgeon is not likely to see LCA as an equally effective or safer alternative to minimally invasive partial nephrectomy, which can be performed with similar complication rates and length of hospital stay without sacrificing oncological efficacy in most patients. Similarly, the question of why the practitioner should assume the risks of LCA when percutaneous cryoablation is readily available at many contemporary kidney cancer centres is unanswered by the present study. Indeed, with increasingly complex renal masses being managed via minimally invasive nephron-sparing surgery, and active surveillance of small renal masses gaining traction in the appropriate patient population, cryoablation via a laparoscopic approach unfortunately may represent another urological application without a well-defined indication going forward. We hope that the results presented by Nielsen et al. in this issue of BJUI encourage investigators to enroll patients in prospective trials aimed at comparing available ablative techniques or partial nephrectomy in matched cohorts to identify the ideal patient population for this operation and further clarify the oncological and clinical outcomes compared with surgical excision.

Daniel C. Parker and Brian W. Cross

 

Department of Urologic Oncology, University of Oklahoma Stephenson Cancer Center, Oklahoma City, OK, USA

 

 

References

 

1 NielsenT, Lagerveld B, Keeley F et al. Oncologic outcomes and complication rates after laparoscopic-assisted cryoablation: a EuRECA multi-institutional study. BJU Int 2016. [Epub ahead of print].

 

2 Campbell SC, Novick AC, Belldegrun A et al. Guideline for management of the clinical T1 renal mass. J Urol 2009; 182: 12719

 

3 Ljungberg B, Bensalah K, Caneld S et al. EAU guidelines on renal cell carcinoma: 2014 update. Eur Urol 2015; 67: 91324

 

4 Wagstaff P, Ingels A, Zondervan P et al. Thermal ablation in renal cell carcinoma management: a comprehensive review. Curr Opin Urol 2014; 24: 47482

 

5 Kutikov A, Smaldone MC, Uzzo RG. Focal therapy for treatment of the small renal mass: dealers choice or a therapeutic gamble? Eur Urol 2015; 67: 2601

 

 

Immunotherapy in urological malignancies: can you take your knowledge to the next level?

bju13648-fig-0001In this month’s issue of the BJUI, we highlight the evolving era of immunotherapy in solid tumour therapy. As urological surgeons, we spend a large portion of our time working with anatomy, instruments, and robots – things we can see, touch, and control. Immunotherapy is a different conversation – cartoon pathways, process blockades, molecular expression levels, combination therapies, and treatment resistance. Curing a patient with a successful operation is a major draw to our field, but we know our limitations when faced with lethal variant prostate cancer, and high-grade/high-stage bladder and kidney cancers in particular. Systemic therapies have been around for decades and are part of our guidelines – so why all the excitement over immunotherapy?

Our highlighted articles are a review from Mataraza and Gotwals [1] and a comment from Elhage et al. [2]. I urge you to start with the review article [1] and give it a full line-by-line read. You may need to pull out pen and paper, and practice spelling and pronouncing a number of new compounds. They may sound as awkward as abiraterone did the first time you heard of it years ago but will eventually become familiar and attached to yet another catchy trade name from pharma. Here is a quick list/homework assignment: ipilimumab, nivolumab, pembrolizumab, pidilizumab, atezolizumab. Another 20 or more are in development. Challenge yourself to write out their pathways, and you may re-learn a thing or two about familiar agents like sipuleucel-T, interferon α, and interleukin 2.

A major theme in both articles is the experience with immunotherapy in advanced melanoma. The enticing message is that a cohort of patients with metastatic melanoma treated with ipilimumab survived 3 years and the Kaplan–Meier curves plateau out to 10 years. This observation sparks different possible futures such as immune ‘memory’, durable response, and ultimately the word we like to use in surgery – cure.

The picture in urological cancers is not entirely as rosy as the melanoma Kaplan–Meier curve. Multiple trials are highlighted by our review with familiar themes of single agent trials, combination immunotherapies, and combined immunotherapy plus anti-angiogenesis agents. Many trials enrol heavily pre-treated populations with limited remaining options. Many endpoints still observe responses followed by resistance patterns. An important theme to follow is the coupling of biomarkers that link expression to treatment response (i.e. predictive vs prognostic), and the USA Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved such a biomarker for nivolumab response. However, even this story line is perplexing, as drug response is not always linked to the marker, and immune cell expression may be ‘inducible and dynamic’ [1].

Last step – re-read the review and comment articles and see if you can write down some key agenda items for future immunotherapy. How are checkpoint inhibitors different from vaccines? How do we generate a durable immune response? What is the ‘abscopal effect’? What are three major areas of research and development in immunotherapy?

If you can spend the time on these articles and ponder these challenging questions, you will move up to the next level of understanding and enjoy a greater appreciation of the next abstract you hear at a major meeting. In closing, I am reminded of the oft-repeated words from the hit television show Game of Thrones (based on the novels of George R.R. Martin) from the House Stark: ‘Winter is Coming’. In urological oncology, ‘Immunotherapy is Coming’, so be prepared!

 

John W. Davis

BJUI Associate Editor Urological Oncology

 

References

1 Mataraza JM, Gotwals P. Recent advances in immuno-oncology and its application to urological cancers. BJU Int 2016; 118: 50614

 

2 Elhage O, Galustian C , Dasgupta P. Immune checkpoint blockade treatment for urological cancers? BJU Int 2016; 118: 498505

 

Asia-Pacific Prostate Cancer Conference 2016 Highlights

JSAfter briefly venturing to tropical Cairns in 2015, the Asia-Pacific Prostate Cancer Conference returned to its traditional home in Melbourne for its 17th edition in 2016 (#APCC16). The meeting has previously featured the who’s who of prostate cancer and this year was no different with an all-star multidisciplinary faculty consisting of 18 international members in addition to our local experts. The meeting was well attended by over the 750 delegates from all parts of the globe and remains one of the largest prostate cancer educational events worldwide.

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Conference president Professor Tony Costello opened the conference with the famous Whitmore aphorisms and outlined the impressive progress and discoveries we have made in the field over the last century. The first case of prostate cancer was described in 1853 in the London Hospital and was noted by the surgeon to be a “very rare disease” whereas now it is known to be the most commonly diagnosed malignancy amongst men. Pleasingly, research and emphasis on men’s health has grown with the disease highlighted by the newly completed, world-class Parkville Biomedical precinct in Melbourne, which includes “The Royal Men’s Hospital” (@APCR). Melbourne’s Lord Mayor (@LordMayorMelb) also dropped-by to reiterate his support for the meeting and the advancements made in men’s health.

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In what is becoming an annual tradition, honourary Melbournian and Australian, Dr Stacy Loeb (@LoebStacy) once again got the sessions off to a flying start by delivering the ‘prostate cancer year in review’ which was an excellent overview of the abstracts produced over the last 12 months. The male attendees in particular were excited by the recent paper suggesting that more than 21 ejaculations per month acted as a protective factor for the development of prostate cancer. Although confounding factors may have played a role in the association seen, these were easily over-looked and its results were accepted as gospel and promoted as a public health message. The abstract featured the following day on the home page of The Australian Financial Review (https://www.afr.com/lifestyle/health/mens-health/tell-your-partner-frequency-counts-even-against-cancer-20160831-gr5fs4) – who knew that the answer to the world economic problems was so simple!

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The meeting did however become more scientific as we heard from a range of international and local experts on the challenges of trying to find the balance of precision oncology in a time of tumour heterogeneity. It was clear that the future has arrived with recent advances in the field of genomics and biomarkers. These discoveries appear to be only the tip of the iceberg and further research holds the key in understanding tumour behavior in order to tailor treatment on a patient-to-patient level. Having witnessed a variety of experts from all parts of the globe present their finding there is little doubt that a major breakthrough is just around the corner. A special mention to Dr Niall Corcoran whose research was of such high quality that A/Prof Henry Woo (@DrHWoo) raised the white flag early in the Melbourne vs. Sydney inter-city rivalry.

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The named lectures of #APCC16 were highlights of the conference. Keeping with the theme of the first morning, Dr Martin Gleave delivered the 4th Patrick C Walsh lecture titled ‘Two Tales of Precision Oncology.” Prof Peter Wiklund gave the inaugural ERUS lecture on the role of surgery for high risk and metastatic prostate cancer.

It wouldn’t have been a prostate cancer conference without the age-old debate of surgery vs. radiotherapy being revisited. Over three days Dr Robert Nam presented a series of talks on Canadian long-term outcomes and meta-analysis showing favourable results for team surgery. He also predicted that the highly anticipated ProtecT randomised trial due in the NEJM would show no difference ensuring the debate prolongs into the future and vowed to “eat my shorts” if the trial demonstrated a result favouring either modality. Dr John Violet flew the flag strongly for radiation oncologists in presenting the promising outcomes for 177Lu-PSMA in the mCRPC setting. Similarly, Dr Andrew Kneebone presented a compelling case for stereotactic radiation for oligometastatic disease.

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Imaging of the prostate was a hot topic throughout the conference. The excitement around PSMA-PET was at a climax following The Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre’s (@VCCC) experience that was presented by Associate Professors Michael Hofman (@DrMHofman) and Nathan Lawrentschuk (@lawrentschuk). The proceeding panel discussion focused on how to best utilise the technology and the role it currently plays in the prostate cancer landscape.  Despite not being FDA approved, its role in evaluating recurrence appears to be entrenched with data to support its superiority over other modalities but it was also proposed that it might have a place in initial staging of high-risk cancer.  The advancement of PSMA over conventional imaging also raised the question of how we now interpret previous trials such as CHAARTED and STAMPEDE whose results are based on superseded technology.

The hype surrounding PSMA-PET only just eclipsed that of mpMRI in the imaging landscape. Professor Philip Stricker presented a nomogram, which integrated MRI in determining who to biopsy and Dr Rob Reiter reported a terrific novel study of using 3D modeling to compare MRI results to final histopathology to determine correlation but did caution us with performing targeted biopsies alone which risks missing clinically significant cancers. Dr Nam also chimed in with a pilot study of using MRI as a screening test.

Suspense was built until Friday for the highly anticipated session on open vs. robotic surgery featuring the first presentation of the Brisbane RCT. The results of the trial have been already widely debated in the urological community and a discussion similar to the recent BJUI blog (https://www.bjuinternational.com/bjui-blog/its-not-about-the-machine-stupid/) ensued. Regardless of individual opinions on the trial, there is no dispute about the volume of work required to conduct a surgical randomised trial and there was wide praise for the efforts of the Brisbane team. Prof Peter Wiklund and Dr Homi Zargar (@hzargar) also reported the Swedish and Victorian experience respectively. The overall consensus was that robotic surgery offers the benefit of minimally invasive surgery but it is the surgeon rather than the modality, which has the most significant impact on outcomes.

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There was a strong multi-disciplinary theme throughout the conference. The Nursing & Allied Health and Translational Science streams both had strong contingents attending. The quality of research presented and engagement amongst attendee was of the highest standard. This was exemplified by the session ‘MDT 2020’, which was a case-centred discussion by a panel of experts from a variety of professions and highlighted the value of a multidisciplinary approach in patient care.

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The social program of #APCC16 was not overshadowed by its academic counterpart. The conference dinner was held at The Glasshouse where the food was exquisite and entertainment was provided by three waiters come tenors. Their classical renditions were received by guests with napkin twirling and swinging wine glasses. The frivolities were thoroughly enjoyed by all.

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The final day of the conference was highlighted by the masterclasses. The 6th da Vinci© Prostatectomy Masterclass was convened by Drs Daniel Moon (@DrDanielMoon) and Geoff Coughlin and featured international faculty involvement by Dr John Davis (@jhdavis) and Professors Thalman and Wiklund. Considering the hype surrounding MRI it was no surprise that the 3rd Prostate MRI Imaging and Biopsy masterclass reached capacity many months ago. It should also be mentioned that the sponsored satellite meetings and breakfast sessions in the previous days which starred Dr Stacy Loeb, Dr Tia Higano (@thigano), Dr Jaspreet Sandhu, Prof Bertrand Tombal (@BertrandTOMBAL) and Genevieve Muir-Smith drew large numbers of attendees.

We would like to congratulate all attendees and their teams on the abstracts presented throughout the conference. The BJUI once again proudly supported the meeting with all accepted abstracts published in a special supplements issue and BJUI Associate Editors Declan Murphy (@declanmurphy), John Davis, and Nathan Lawrentschuk being prominent figures throughout the conference. A special mention to the poster prize winners from this year:

  • Clinical Urology: Jonathan Kam – Do multi-parametric MRI guided biopsies add value to the standard systematic prostate needle biopsy? – early experience in an Australian regional centre
  • Nursing & Allied Health: Thea Richardson – An Androgen Deprivation Therapy Clinic: An integrative approach to treatment
  • Translational Science: Natalie Kurganovs – Identifying the origins and drivers of castration resistant prostate cancer

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On behalf of all the delegates, we thank the entire international and local faculty who shared their knowledge over the conference and devote their time to improving men’s health. Furthermore, meetings such as this would not occur without the unheralded behind the scenes work. We extend our thanks to president Prof Costello, the convenors of the streams (A/Prof Declan Murphy, Dr Niall Corcoran, A/Prof Chris Hovens, Ms Helen Crowe (@helenrcrowe) & Mr Dave Gray (@DavidGrayAust)) and the APCC committee. We also graciously thank our sponsors without whom none of this would be possible and are vital to further advancements in men’s health.

Last but not least, given the rich history of social media seen at this conference, it would be remiss not to acknowledge another #SoMe landmark. Melbourne has previously been responsible in welcoming urology SoMe royalty, Dr Stacy Loeb, to the twitter world and this year the twitterati were introduced to Dr Peter Carroll (@pcarroll_). He managed to send out 4 tweets and eclipse 100 followers before the end of the conference.

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#APCC17 will return to Melbourne on 30th of August 2017 – we hope to see you there!

Dr Niranjan Sathianathen (@NiranjanJS) is a researcher at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne.

 

Article of the Week: TRUS-Guided RB PCa Detection – Reasons for Targeted Biopsy Failure

Every Week the Editor-in-Chief selects an Article of the Week from the current issue of BJUI. The abstract is reproduced below and you can click on the button to read the full article, which is freely available to all readers for at least 30 days from the time of this post.

In addition to the article itself, there is an accompanying editorial written by a prominent member of the urological community. This blog is intended to provoke comment and discussion and we invite you to use the comment tools at the bottom of each post to join the conversation.

Finally, the third post under the Article of the Week heading on the homepage will consist of additional material or media. This week we feature a video from Hannes Cash and Patrick Asbach, discussing their paper.

If you only have time to read one article this week, it should be this one.

Prostate cancer detection on transrectal ultrasonography-guided random biopsy despite negative real-time magnetic resonance imaging/ultrasonography fusion-guided targeted biopsy: reasons for targeted biopsy failure

Hannes Cash*, Karsten Gunzel*, Andreas Maxeiner*, Carsten Stephan*, Thomas Fischer, Tahir Durmus, Kurt Miller*, Patrick Asbach, Matthias Haas† and Carsten Kempkensteffen*

 

*Department of Urology, and Department of Radiology, ChariteUniversity of Medicine Berlin, Berlin, Germany M. H. and C.K. contributed equally to the study.

 

Objective

To examine the value of additional transrectal ultrasonography (TRUS)-guided random biopsy (RB) in patients with negative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)/ultrasonography (US) fusion-guided targeted biopsy (TB) and to identify possible reasons for TB failure.

Patients and Methods

We conducted a subgroup analysis of 61 men with prostate cancer (PCa) detected by 10-core RB but with a negative TB, from a cohort of 408 men with suspicious multiparametric magnetic resonance imaging (mpMRI) between January 2012 and January 2015. A consensus re-reading of mpMRI results (using Prostate Imaging Reporting and Data System [PI-RADS] versions 1 and 2) for each suspicious lesion was performed, with the image reader blinded to the biopsy results, followed by an unblinded anatomical correlation of the lesion on mpMRI to the biopsy result. The potential reasons for TB failure were estimated for each lesion. We defined clinically significant PCa according to the Epstein criteria and stratified patients into risk groups according to the European Association of Urology guidelines.

JulAOTW3Results

Results

Our analysis showed that RB detected significant PCa in 64% of patients (39/61) and intermediate-/high-risk PCa in 57% of patients (35/61). The initial mpMRI reading identified 90 suspicious lesions in the cohort. Blinded consensus re-reading of the mpMRI led to PI-RADS score downgrading of 45 lesions (50%) and upgrading of 13 lesions (14%); thus, negative TB could be explained by falsely high initial PI-RADS scores for 32 lesions (34%) and sampling of the target lesion by RB in the corresponding anatomical site for 36 out of 90 lesions (40%) in 35 of 61 patients (57%). Sampling of the target lesion by RB was most likely for lesions with PI-RADS scores of 4/5 and Gleason scores (GS) of ≥7. A total of 70 PCa lesions (67% with GS 6) in 44 patients (72%) were sampled from prostatic sites with no abnormalities on mpMRI.

Conclusion

In cases of TB failure, RB still detected a high rate of significant PCa. The main reason for a negative TB was a TB error, compensated for by positive sampling of the target lesion by the additional RB, and the second reason for TB failure was a falsely high initial PI-RADS score. The challenges that arise for both MRI diagnostics and prostate lesion sampling are evident in our data and support the integration of RB into the TB workflow.

Editorial: MRI-Fusion Biopsy – Behind the Scenes

MRI information of the prostate is increasingly used for improving the diagnostic yield of prostate biopsies [1]. However, increasing complexity of a procedure makes it prone to errors at multiple technical and human levels. Incorporating MRI information and ultrasonography (US) images for MRI-fusion biopsies is a technically challenging task. It involves various steps such as the acquisition and fusion of MRI and US images, the needle guidance during biopsy, and the diligence of the pathological evaluation of biopsy specimens. These different steps and interfaces between different medical professions influence the diagnostic performance of MRI-fusion biopsies.

For example, in daily clinical practice, MRIs from different institutions still harbour a great variance of sequences and reporting, despite the European Society of Urogenital Urology (ESUR) recently introducing acquisition and imaging protocols and a new and advanced version of the Prostate Imaging Reporting and Data System (PIRADS) version 2.0 [2]. The usefulness of such reporting schemes is evidenced by a moderate-to-good interobserver agreement between uro-radiologists for tumour lesion interpretation and corresponding κ values ranging from 0.55 to 0.80 [3]. Important pitfalls of image interpretation are benign lesions such as prostatitis, BPH and fibrosis, which might score similarly to prostate cancer lesions. This problem is further aggravated by a high proportion of patients that receive their first multiparametric MRI (mpMRI) of the prostate in the repeat-biopsy setting with a high burden of post-biopsy artefacts (haemorrhage, capsular irregularity) and lower overall cancer detection rate. Also, during MRI-fusion biopsy patient movement, prostate deformation by the US probe, and mismatch of image planes can lead to a biopsy error exceeding 4 mm. Moreover, targeting error might be aggravated by MRI underestimation of the tumour volume compared with final pathology [4]. After various authors reported the advantages and accuracy of MRI/US-fusion biopsy approaches, Cash et al. [5] address potential reasons for targeted biopsy failure to detect prostate cancer compared with random biopsy. Within their analyses the authors address potential limitations and technical considerations. Based on different technical biopsy strategies (with the patient placed within the MRI scanner (‘in-bore’) vs outside) and different technical approaches, these considerations are very important.

In contrast to cognitive fusion, most MRI/US platforms allow needle tracking by archiving the needle orientation, either by an electromagnetic, image-based or stepper-based mechanism [1]. However, lesion targeting by needle guidance is highly dependent on the dimensions of the primary lesion, numbers of relevant lesions, localisation, and overall prostate volume, making MRI-US fusion and cognitive fusion more error prone (i.e. aiming off the mark with the needle) than in-bore biopsies. Moreover, different technical fusion approaches provide different degrees of manual/automated adjustment tools, with for example either rigid or elastic image transformation to facilitate MRI/US image alignment.

In their analyses, Cash et al. [5] found that 34% of negative targeted biopsies could be explained by initially too high estimated PIRADS scores that were downgraded at re-reading. Interestingly, the remaining lesions were without an mpMRI correlate but within this group 92.9% showed a primary Gleason 3 pattern in biopsy pathology, suggesting a high degree of invisibility on mpMRI. Subanalyses did not show an association of targeted biopsy failures in the ventral location. Therefore, the study by Cash et al. [5] is an important precursor for further analyses to address other underlying reasons for targeted biopsy failure. Moreover, it reveals the need for a tight collaboration of radiologists, urologists, and pathologists as interdisciplinary partners involved in MRI-fusion biopsy. Consequently, the optimal diagnostic performance of MRI-fusion biopsies can only be achieved through standardised MRI performance, reading and reporting of MRI findings, as well as final correlation of MRI findings with histopathological work up.

Lars Budaus and Sami-Ramzi Leyh-Bannurah
Martini-Clinic University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany

 

References

 

 

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