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63% of patients with upper tract urothelial carcinoma respond to chemo before surgery


ASCO GU 2022

Investigators presenting at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Genitourinary Cancers Symposium called for neoadjuvant chemotherapy to be a new standard of care for high-grade upper tract urothelial carcinoma.

They made the call after finding that 63% of patients (36/57) had a pathologic response to gemcitabine/cisplatin before extirpative surgery, with pathologic response defined as less than pT2NO disease on postoperative pathology. Nineteen percent (11/57) had complete responses, with no evidence of the main tumor (ypT0N0).

The approach has a “favorable pathologic response, is well tolerated ... and thus should be considered a new standard of care option,” said investigators led by Wesley Yip, MD, a urologic oncology fellow at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York.

There was no comparator arm, but the results are in line with previous reports, including a 2014 investigation that found a 5-year disease specific survival (DSS) of 90.1% and 5-year overall survival (OS) of 80.2% among 31 upper tract urothelial carcinoma patients who received neoadjuvant chemotherapy, versus a 5-year DSS and OS of 57.6% among 81 historical controls.

Presentation moderator Stephen Boorjian, MD, chair of urology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., called the findings “valuable” but noted there’s level 1 evidence for an alternative approach, chemotherapy or nivolumab after surgery for patients with particularly worrisome postop pathology. It makes it tough to know if patients should be treated beforehand or afterwards.

“What do we do?” he asked.

Dr. Yip said it’s an open question at this point but that trials are underway to address the issue. In the meantime, “it’s definitely a multidisciplinary discussion to know what’s best for each patient,” he said. One of the factors that argues for the neoadjuvant approach is that substantially fewer patients are eligible for chemotherapy after nephroureterectomy because of diminished renal function. “Patients who might not be eligible ... are the ones we’d be targeting for” neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC), he said.

In the study, gemcitabine 1000 mg/m2 and cisplatin 35 mg/m2 were administered on days 1 and 8 of four 21-day cycles, followed by radical nephroureterectomy or ureterectomy.

Fifty-three of the subjects had high-grade disease by endoscopic biopsy, and the remaining four were enrolled based on imaging and selective cytology. There was no nodal disease on CT within 30 days of neoadjuvant chemotherapy initiation.

Two-year progression-free survival (PFS) was 91% among pathologic responders but only 52% among nonresponders. Every responder was alive at 2 years versus 80% of nonresponders.

Across the entire cohort, 5-year PFS was 61% and 5-year OS 79%; 89.5% of patients were alive at a median follow-up of 3.5 years.

Almost all of the patients completed at least three NAC cycles, and all of them went to surgery, which had a 90-day grade 3 or higher complication rate of 7%.

Sixty-three percent were men, and 95% were White. The median age was 66 years.

The work was funded by the National Institutes of Health and Memorial Sloan Kettering. Dr. Yip had no disclosures. Dr. Boorjian advises ArTara Therapeutics, FerGene, and Ferring.

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