Purpose: In an attempt to identify women who may be appropriate candidates for orthotopic lower urinary tract reconstruction, archival cystectomy specimens from female patients undergoing cystectomy for primary bladder cancer were reviewed. These pathological findings should provide a better understanding of tumor involvement at the bladder neck (vesicourethral junction) and urethra in women with transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder. Materials and Methods: Cystectomy specimens of 67 consecutive women undergoing surgery for biopsy proved transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder between July 1982 and July 1990 were pathologically reviewed. Results: Histological evidence of tumor (carcinoma in situ or gross carcinoma) involving the urethra was present in 9 patients (13 percent). Tumor was confined to the proximal and mid urethra, and the distal urethra was not involved. All patients with carcinoma involving the urethra had concomitant evidence of carcinoma involving the bladder neck. A total of 17 patients (25 percent) had tumor involvement of the bladder neck and those with an uninvolved bladder neck also had an uninvolved urethra. The association between the presence of tumor in the bladder neck and urethra was highly significant (p less than or equal to 0.00012). Tumor involving the bladder neck and urethra tended to be more commonly associated with high grade and stage tumors, and node-positive disease. Conclusions: Although the fate of the retained urethra following cystectomy for bladder cancer in women is unknown, these results show that women with transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder without evidence of tumor involving the bladder neck are at low risk for urethral malignancy. These patients may be offered lower urinary tract reconstruction that includes preservation of and diversion through the urethra (orthotopic diversion). Urethral surveillance will be necessary, as it is in men after orthotopic urinary diversion.
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