Oncologic outcomes of radical nephroureterectomy (RNU)

Alexander P. Kenigsberg, Xiaosong Meng, Rashed Ghandour, Vitaly Margulis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Radical nephroureterectomy is the mainstay of surgical treatment for upper tract urothelial carcinoma (UTUC), a disease which comprises approximately 5% of urothelial malignancies. Minimally-invasive and nephron-sparing interventions have been explored, although thus far have not shown comparable oncologic outcomes except in a relatively narrow set of patients. Due to the relative rarity of the disease, it has taken decades and multi-disciplinary efforts to sufficiently identify prognostic factors of oncologic outcomes. Despite these efforts, however, oncologic outcomes of nephroureterectomy have remained remarkably stable over the past 30 years. New techniques, such as laparoscopic and robotic surgery, have been applied to this procedure. High level evidence regarding equivalent oncologic outcomes is lacking and open surgery remains the standard of care for high-stage disease, although there is a role for laparoscopic and robotic nephroureterectomy. The importance of bladder cuff removal in improving oncologic outcomes has been broadly accepted, although there is no consensus as to the most oncologically appropriate technique. There does appear to be evidence that endoscopic techniques confer worse oncologic control. The role of lymphadenectomy remains controversial, although there is evidence that increased nodal yield could have oncologic benefit. Given disease heterogeneity and varied technical approaches to the procedure, no consensus standardized template has been identified. There is level 1 evidence for the use of intravesical chemotherapy peri-operatively and that this intervention can improve the risk of intravesical recurrence. Advances in systemic neoadjuvant and adjuvant chemotherapy have yielded promising results and are likely to become standard of care for patients without contraindications. Immunotherapy and targeted biologic agents are also likely to improve the surgical efficacy of radical nephroureterectomy as well. Ultimately, more high level evidence is needed to identify successful surgical and medical approaches to UTUC and multi-institutional collaboration is critical to this progress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1841-1852
Number of pages12
JournalTranslational Andrology and Urology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • Laparoscopic surgery
  • Neoadjuvant chemotherapy
  • Nephroureterectomy
  • Robotic surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Urology


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