Purpose: We hypothesized that bladder cancer patients with associated lymphovascular invasion (LVI) are at increased risk of occult metastases. Methods: A multi-institutional group (University of Texas Southwestern [Dallas, TX], Baylor College of Medicine [Houston, TX], Johns Hopkins University [Baltimore, MD]) carried out a retrospective study of 958 patients who underwent cystectomy for bladder cancer between 1984 and 2003. Of patients with transitional-cell carcinoma (n = 776), LVI status was available for 750. LVI was defined as the presence of tumor cells within an endothelium-lined space. Results: LVI was present in 36.4% (273 of 750) overall, involving 26% (151 of 581) and 72% (122 of 169) of node-negative and node-positive patients, respectively. Prevalence of LVI increased with higher pathologic stage (9.0%, 23%, 60%, and 78%, for T1, T2, T3, and T4, respectively; P < .001). Using multivariate Cox regression analyses including age, stage, grade, and number of pelvic lymph nodes removed, LVI was an independent predictor of local (HR = 2.03, P = .049), distant (HR = 2.60, P = .0011), and overall (HR = 2.02, P = .0003) recurrence in node-negative patients. LVI was an independent predictor of overall (HR = 1.84, P = .0002) and cause-specific (HR = 2.07, P = .0012) survival in node-negative patients. LVI maintained its independent predictor status in competing risks regression models (P = .013), where other-cause mortality was considered as a competing risk. LVI was not a predictor of recurrence or survival in node-positive patients. Conclusion: LVI is an independent predictor of recurrence and decreased cause-specific and overall survival in patients who undergo cystectomy for invasive bladder cancer and are node-negative. These patients represent a high risk group that may benefit from integrated therapy with cystectomy and perioperative systemic chemotherapy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research