BACKGROUND: It currently remains unclear whether the location of primary tumours affects the clinical outcomes of patients with locally advanced urothelial carcinoma in the urinary tract. The aim of the present study was to compare prognostic differences between bladder urothelial carcinoma and upper tract urothelial carcinoma, particularly pT3 or higher tumours. METHODS: In total, 307 patients with pT3 or higher urothelial carcinoma without distant metastasis who underwent radical cystectomy for bladder urothelial carcinoma (N = 127, 41.4%) or radical nephroureterectomy for upper tract urothelial carcinoma (N = 180, 58.6%) at Keio University Hospital and three affiliated hospitals between 1994 and 2017 were enrolled. Oncological outcomes were compared between bladder urothelial carcinoma and upper tract urothelial carcinoma using Cox regression analysis. RESULTS: Significantly higher rates of male patients, smokers, neoadjuvant chemotherapy, lymph node involvement and lymphovascular invasion were observed in the bladder urothelial carcinoma group. The incidence of regional lymph node or local recurrence was higher in patients with bladder urothelial carcinoma than in those with upper tract urothelial carcinoma, while that of lung metastasis was lower. In all patients, bladder urothelial carcinoma was independently associated with disease recurrence (hazard ratio (HR) 1.504, P = 0.035) in addition to neoadjuvant chemotherapy and lymphovascular invasion. Bladder urothelial carcinoma was also independently associated with cancer death (HR = 1.998, P = 0.002) as well as lymphovascular invasion. Following the exclusion of patients who received neoadjuvant chemotherapy, bladder urothelial carcinoma remained an independent risk factor for disease recurrence and cancer death (HR = 1.702, P = 0.010 and HR = 1.888, P = 0.013, respectively). CONCLUSIONS: Bladder urothelial carcinoma may follow worse prognosis compared to upper tract urothelial carcinoma, particularly that with a high pathological stage.
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