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| Upper urinary tract urothelial carcinoma (UTUC) is a rare disease, which means there are little evidence-based data available to guide clinical decision-making. Although diagnosis and treatment of UTUC have improved significantly over the last 5 years, accurate risk stratification remains a challenge owing to the difficulty of clinical staging. A number of potential prognostic factors have been identified, encompassing clinical characteristics, pathological factors and molecular markers. Tumor stage and lymph node status are the most important predictors of survival in patients with UTUC. Preoperative evaluation for hydronephrosis can identify patients at risk of non-organ-confined disease. In the subgroup of patients with stage ≥pT2 disease, a longer interval between diagnosis and radical nephroureterectomy is associated with a higher risk of disease recurrence and cancer-specific mortality. Extensive tumor necrosis, sessile tumor architecture and lymphovascular invasion are independent predictors of clinical outcomes for patients with UTUC treated with radical nephroureterectomy. The incorporation of such prognosticators into clinical prediction models might help to guide decision-making with regard to timing of surveillance, type of treatment, performance of lymphadenectomy, and consideration of neoadjuvant or adjuvant systemic therapies.