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Long-term oncological outcomes of office-based fulguration of Ta low-grade non muscle invasive bladder cancer: A large single center series

Introduction and objective

Sixty percent of non-muscle-invasive bladder tumors initially present as low grade (LG), which have a high recurrence rate but low risk of progression. Transurethral resection of bladder tumor (TURBT) is standard for the diagnosis, staging, and treatment of bladder cancer (BC). Office-based fulguration under local anesthesia for small, recurrent, apparent Ta LG tumors is an alternative to TURBT. It is convenient for both patients and physicians, avoiding the costs and risks of a hospital-based procedure requiring general or spinal anesthesia. However, despite being part of some guidelines, it has not become the primary management approach in part due to the paucity of large studies with long term follow-up.


We retrospectively reviewed our experience with 270 patients with a history of Ta LG BC who underwent office-based fulguration for subsequent small recurrent papillary bladder tumors between 1991 and 2021 at the Toronto General Hospital/Princess Margaret Cancer Center, University Health Network, Toronto, Canada. We report the cancer specific survival (CSS) and progression free survival (PFS, defined as muscle invasive disease or metastases).


270 patients with recurrent Ta LG NMIBC treated with office fulguration were included. Mean age was 64.9 (SD 13.3) years, 70.8% were men and 60.3% had single tumors. The mean number of fulgurations per patient was 3.1 (SD 3.2) with a range from 1 to 22. Median follow up was 10.1 years (IQR 5.8−16.2). Patients also underwent a mean of 3.6 (SD 3.0) TURBTs during follow-up. 44.4% of patients never received intravesical therapy during follow-up. At 10 years, the CSS was 100% and PFS was 97.3 (93.8-98.8)%, respectively.


Our results are based on a large patient experience with long follow-up (10 years) and demonstrate that select patients with recurrent apparent Ta LG BC can be safely managed with office-based fulguration under local anesthesia, without compromising long-term oncological outcomes. This approach reduces surgical and anesthetic associated morbidity and may generate cost-savings to healthcare systems. Office-based fulguration for recurrent small tumors after Ta LG NMIBC should be more widely used.