The rational and benefits of the second look transurethral resection of the bladder for T1 high grade bladder cancer

Francesco Soria, Giancarlo Marra, David D’Andrea, Paolo Gontero, Shahrokh F. Shariat


The second look transurethral resection of the bladder (TURB) represents a fundamental step in the treatment of papillary non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC); it is therefore recommended by all guidelines. However, not all the literature agrees on its staging value and its ability to improve oncological outcomes of patients. Therefore, the purpose of this review is to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of second look TURB, trying to depict its evolving role in the management of high grade NMIBC. Using Medline, a non-systematic review was performed including articles between January 2000 and June 2018. English language original articles, reviews and editorials were selected based on their clinical relevance. To date, TURB seems to be largely inadequate in retrieving a correct diagnosis and in removing all tumor tissue. Second look TURB maximizes staging accuracy, allows to clear residual cancer and yields prognostic advantages allowing key information to identify possible candidates for immediate radical cystectomy for very high risk T1HG tumors. Moreover, it seems to have a therapeutic benefit by improving recurrence- and progression-free survivals. However, few recent large studies showed that these advantages seem to be limited to patients without detrusor muscle present at first resection. Similarly, the presence of residual disease and the risk of upstaging are related to the presence of detrusor muscle in specimen. It could well be that in the future the presence of detrusor muscle would be a quality criteria to avoid an unnecessary second look TURB as shown by recent studies using the en-bloc resection technique. Finally, it has to be underlined that this is a surgical procedure not free of risks and complications and with a non-negligible impact on patients’ quality of life, waiting lists and healthcare costs. Therefore, future studies trying to identify the criteria that may better allow which patients to select for a second look TURB while avoiding an unnecessary intervention with possible risks and associated cost are needed to allow a personalized approach to even this one size fits all strategy.