Purpose: To evaluate the impact of lymph node dissection (LND) on clinical outcome during radical nephroureterectomy (RNU) for patients with upper urinary tract urothelial cancer (UTUC). Methods: We, the Urologic Oncology Study Group of the Japan Clinical Oncology Group (JCOG), retrospectively collected data from patients with non-metastatic UTUC who underwent RNU in 30 centers in 1995–2009. Ineligible patients and patients with previous and/or synchronous bladder cancer were excluded, and the remaining 2037 patients were analyzed. We compared overall and cancer-specific mortality between patients who underwent LND (LND group) and those without LND (no-LND group). Results: Among 2037 patients, LND was performed in 1046 (51.4%) patients, and 223 (10.9%) patients had pathological node-positive (pN+) disease. All-cause mortality was observed in 503 patients (24.7%) during follow-up (median 45.8 months), including 363 patients (17.8%) who died of UTUC. Patients with pN+ disease showed significantly shorter overall survival (OS) compared with pN0 patients, and the estimated 5-year OS for pN+ patients was 30%. Older age, ≥cT3, and clinical node-positive disease were found as preoperative predictors for pN+ disease by multivariate analysis. In the comparison of OS and cancer-specific mortality between LND and no-LND groups, there was no significant improvement by LND in multivariate analysis. The median number of lymph nodes removed was six (IQR 3–11). There was no significant association between the number of lymph nodes removed and OS. Conclusions: The present study indicates that there is no therapeutic benefit of LND during RNU for UTUC, although pathologically positive LN status can predict poor prognosis.
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