OBJECTIVE To report our experience of treating patients with original and recurrent upper tract urothelial carcinomas (UC) using endoscopic lasers, with holmium-YAG and/or neodymium-YAG laser ablation, and for whom tumour stage and grade were obtained by endoscopic biopsy. PATIENTS AND METHODS From March 2003 to March 2007, 15 patients with upper tract UC were treated with endoscopic laser ablation as the primary management. Patients were followed up by intravenous urography, computed tomography, urine cytology and/or ureteroscopic surveillance at 3- to 12-month intervals. The median (range) follow-up was 25.5 (13-51) months. RESULTS Of the 15 patients, five had an upper tract recurrence during the follow-up. Three of these were treated with total nephroureterectomy and two had a progression in tumour stage or grade. Three patients had residual tumours; they were treated with repeated endoscopic laser treatments and had no recurrence over a median (range) of 24 (13-26) months. The renal preservation rate was 12/15 and the local recurrence rate was six/15 after the initial endoscopy. The median operative duration and tumour size were 60 min and 10 mm, respectively. CONCLUSION Patients with low-grade and -stage disease and normal contralateral kidneys also benefit from this approach, if there is an adequate endoscopic biopsy. As the operative duration tended to be associated with the maximum tumour size, this treatment is potentially available for a maximum tumour size of <4 cm; if the tumour is <4 cm surgery will require <120 min.
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