In a 2012 paper, researchers from RAND Corp. called clinical practice guidelines “one of the foundations of efforts to improve health care” (Implement Sci 2012; 7:62). The pace of modern medical advances underscores the importance of published clinical guidance, and has in fact led to an increase in the speed of guideline development and updates. The field of genitourinary cancer is no stranger to this trend.
This article highlights the key points of two urologic cancer guidelines (which provide evidence-based guidance) and two consensus statements (which provide consensus recommendations by a multidisciplinary panel of experts) that have been published in the past year. The guidelines discuss nonmuscle-invasive bladder cancer and small renal masses, while the consensus statements examine immunotherapy for renal cell carcinoma and prostate cancer.
Nonmuscle-invasive bladder cancer (AUA/SUO)
The 2016 American Urological Association/Society of Urologic Oncology guideline on the diagnosis and treatment of nonmuscle-invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC) provides clinicians with a risk-stratification approach to treating this condition. The full guideline was published in The Journal of Urology (2016; 196:1021–9).
Depending on the patient’s unique experience with NMIBC, sometimes more follow-up and surveillance are warranted, whereas with other patients, their clinical teams should be mindful about when it’s more appropriate to “back off,” says Sam S. Chang, MD, professor of urologic surgery and urologic surgeon/oncologist at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, who helped develop the guideline.
Leveraging a risk-stratified approach, the guideline puts patients into one of three categories: low, intermediate, and high risk. The guideline’s treatment algorithm incorporates the tumor’s characteristics while factoring in the individual patient’s response to therapy. Attempting to help clinicians evaluate and treat individual patients, the guideline includes 38 statements, which rely on a variety of evidence.
During diagnosis, specifically, the guideline recommends that clinicians perform a thorough cystoscopic examination of the patient’s entire urethra and bladder, in addition to evaluating and documenting the size, location, configuration, number, and mucosal abnormalities of the tumor. Experts also recommend that during the initial diagnosis, a complete visual resection of the bladder tumor(s) should be performed, in addition to imaging of the patient’s upper urinary tract.
For a patient who has been treated for NMIBC in the past and has normal cystoscopy and positive cytology, prostatic urethral biopsies and upper tract imaging, in addition to enhanced cystoscopic techniques, such as blue light cystoscopy, should be considered.
Also, in a patient with suspected or known low- or intermediate-risk bladder cancer, a single postoperative instillation of intravesical chemotherapy, such as mitomycin C or epirubicin, should be considered within 24 hours of transuretheral resection of a bladder tumor. For patients at intermediate risk—those who completely respond to induction bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG)—their clinical team should consider maintenance BCG for 1 year, as tolerated by the patient. In addition to recommendations on BCG relapse, salvage regimens, and other aspects of management, the document also provides risk-adjusted surveillance and follow-up strategies.