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Article of the Week: Detection and oncological effect of CTC in patients with variant UCB histology treated with RC

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.

Detection and oncological effect of circulating tumour cells in patients with variant urothelial carcinoma histology treated with radical cystectomy

Armin Soave*, Sabine Riethdorf, Roland Dahlem*, Sarah Minner, Lars Weisbach*, Oliver Engel*, Margit Fisch*, Klaus Pantel† and Michael Rink*

 

*Department of Urology, Institute of Tumor Biology, and Department of Pathology, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany

 

How to Cite

Soave, A., Riethdorf, S., Dahlem, R., Minner, S., Weisbach, L., Engel, O., Fisch, M., Pantel, K. and Rink, M. (2017), Detection and oncological effect of circulating tumour cells in patients with variant urothelial carcinoma histology treated with radical cystectomy. BJU International, 119: 854–861. doi: 10.1111/bju.13782

Abstract

Objectives

To investigate for the presence of circulating tumour cells (CTC) in patients with variant urothelial carcinoma of the bladder (UCB) histology treated with radical cystectomy (RC), and to determine their impact on oncological outcomes.

Patients and methods

We prospectively collected data of 188 patients with UCB treated with RC without neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Pathological specimens were meticulously reviewed for pure and variant UCB histology. Preoperatively collected blood samples (7.5 mL) were analysed for CTC using the CellSearch® system (Janssen, Raritan, NJ, USA).

aotw-results-4

Results

Variant UCB histology was found in 47 patients (25.0%), most frequently of squamous cell differentiation (16.5%). CTC were present in 30 patients (21.3%) and 12 patients (25.5%) with pure and variant UCB histology, respectively. At a median follow-up of 25 months, the presence of CTC and non-squamous cell differentiation were associated with reduced recurrence-free survival (RFS) and cancer-specific survival (pairwise P ≤ 0.016). Patients without CTC had better RFS, independent of UCB histology, than patients with CTC with any UCB histology (pairwise P < 0.05). In multivariable analyses, the presence of CTC, but not variant UCB histology, was an independent predictor for disease recurrence [hazard ratio (HR) 3.45; P < 0.001] and cancer-specific mortality (HR 2.62; P = 0.002).

Conclusion

CTC are detectable in about a quarter of patients with pure or variant UCB histology before RC, and represent an independent predictor for outcomes, when adjusting for histological subtype. In addition, our prospective data confirm the unfavourable influence of non-squamous cell-differentiated UCB on outcomes.

Editorial: Detection and oncological effect of CTC in patients with variant UCB histology treated with RC

I read this article from Hamburg-Eppendorf with great interest [1]. The treatment of invasive urothelial carcinoma has not significantly progressed in the last 30 years, with survivals currently that are little changed since the first introduction of multi-drug platinum-based chemotherapy in the 1980s. Moreover, the broad application of chemotherapy, whether it is in the preoperative or postoperative domains, is associated with significant morbidity in this generally elderly population. As 60–80% of patients are cured by surgery alone, the broad use of chemotherapy in any setting results in unnecessary morbidity and occasionally mortality in some patients unnecessarily. Multiple patients have a permanent reduction in renal function when platinum is used in this setting. The decision to treat preoperatively is limited by inaccurate clinical staging and in the postoperative setting may be compromised by slow or incomplete surgical recovery.

The measurement of preoperative circulating tumour cells (CTC) provides us with a rational approach to more accurately select patients for neoadjuvant chemotherapy and would seem according to this article to independently predict disease recurrence, even when considering aggressive variant histologies. Examining Figure 2, one finds that even with variant histology, 60% of patients will not recur after cystectomy if they are CTC negative. The differences are even more profound in pure urothelial carcinoma, where the presence of detectable CTC decreases survival by 50%. The authors are to be congratulated for providing us with a potential rational methodology to determine the benefit from neoadjuvant chemotherapy in patients with bladder cancer prior to cystectomy. Next we should await the analysis of clinical trials stratified by CTC status.

Michael O. Koch, Chairman and Professor of Urology

 

Indiana Cancer Pavilion, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN, USA

 

Reference

 

 

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