Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Micropapillary bladder cancer: a review of Léon Bérard Cancer Center experience

Pierre Heudel*, Fadi El Karak, Nabil Ismaili, Jean-Pierre Droz and Aude Flechon

Author Affiliations

Léon Bérard Cancer Center, 28 Rue Laennec, 69008 Lyon, France

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BMC Urology 2009, 9:5  doi:10.1186/1471-2490-9-5

Published: 17 June 2009



Micropapillary bladder cancer is a rare and aggressive variant of urothelial carcinoma. A retrospective review of our experience in management of patients with muscle-invasive or metastatic micropapillary bladder cancer was performed to better define the behavior of this disease.


We reviewed the records of the 11 patients with micropapillary bladder cancer who were evaluated and treated at Léon Bérard Cancer Center between 1994 and 2007, accounting for 1,2% of all urothelial tumors treated in this institution.


Mean patients age was 60 years. The majority of patients (72%) were diagnosed after 2004. After a median follow-up of 31.7 months, median overall survival was 19 months. Two patients presented with stage II, one with stage III and eight with stage IV disease All 5 patients who had node positive metastases and treated with radical surgery and adjuvant chemotherapy relapsed and had a disease free survival of 9.6 months.


Micropapillary bladder cancer is probably an underreported variant of urothelial carcinoma associated with poor prognosis. Adjuvant chemotherapy might have a questionable efficacy and the optimal treatment strategy is yet to be defined.