Risk-stratified surveillance protocol improves cost-effectiveness after radical nephroureterectomy in patients with upper tract urothelial carcinoma

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To develop a surveillance protocol with improved cost-effectiveness after radical nephroureterectomy (RNU), as the cost-effectiveness of oncological surveillance after RNU remains unclear.


We retrospectively evaluated 426 patients with RNU for upper tract urothelial carcinoma (UTUC) without distant metastasis at 4 hospitals. Patients with routine oncological follow-up were stratified into normal-,high-and very high-risk groups according to a pathology-based protocol utilizing pathological stage, lymphovascular invasive(LVI)and surgical margine(SM).Cost-effectiveness of the pathology-based protocol was evaluated, and a risk score-based protocol was developed to optimize cost-effectiveness. Risk scores were calculated by adding risk factors independently associated with recurrence-free survival. Patients were stratified by low-, intermediate- and high-risk score. Estimated cost per recurrence detected by risk score-based protocols was compared.


Of 426 patients, 109 (26%) and 113 (27%) experienced visceral and intravesical recurrences, respectively. The pathology-based protocol found significant differences in recurrence-free survival in the visceral recurrence but not in the intravesical recurrence. The medical costs per visceral recurrence detected were high, especially in normal-risk (?pT2N0, LVI-, SM-) patients. We developed a risk score associated with visceral recurrence using Cox regression analysis. The risk score-based protocol was significantly more cost-effective than the pathology-based protocol. Estimated cost differences reached $747,929 per visceral recurrence detected, a suggested 55% reduction.


A risk score-stratified surveillance protocol has the potential to reduce overinvestigation after RNU without adverse effects on medical cost.

Funding: none