Urothelial cancer of the upper urinary tract: Emerging biomarkers and integrative models for risk stratification

Romain Mathieu, Mihai D. Vartolomei, Aurélie Mbeutcha, Pierre I. Karakiewicz, Alberto Briganti, Morgan Rouprêt, Shahrokh F. Shariat

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


INTRODUCTION: The aim of this review was to provide an overview of current biomarkers and risk stratification models in urothelial cancer of the upper urinary tract (UTUC). EVIDENCE ACQUISITION: A non-systematic Medline/PubMed literature search was performed using the terms "biomarkers", "preoperative models", "postoperative models", "risk stratification", together with "upper tract urothelial carcinoma". Original articles published between January 2003 and August 2015 were included based on their clinical relevance. Additional references were collected by cross referencing the bibliography of the selected articles. EVIDENCE SYNTHESIS: Various promising predictive and prognostic biomarkers have been identified in UTUC thanks to the increasing knowledge of the different biological pathways involved in UTUC tumorigenesis. These biomarkers may help identify tumors with aggressive biology and worse outcomes. Current tools aim at predicting muscle invasive or non-organ confined disease, renal failure after radical nephroureterectomy and survival outcomes. These models are still mainly based on imaging and clinicopathological feature and none has integrated biomarkers. Risk stratification in UTUC is still suboptimal, especially in the preoperative setting due to current limitations in staging and grading. Identification of novel biomarkers and external validation of current prognostic models may help improve risk stratification to allow evidence-based counselling for kidney-sparing approaches, perioperative chemotherapy and/or risk-based surveillance. CONCLUSIONS: Despite growing understanding of the biology underlying UTUC, management of this disease remains difficult due to the lack of validated biomarkers and the limitations of current predictive and prognostic tools. Further efforts and collaborations are necessaryry to allow their integration in daily practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-395
Number of pages15
JournalMinerva Urologica e Nefrologica
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2016


  • Biomarkers
  • Prognosis
  • Urologic neoplasms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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