Objectives: To evaluate the recurrence and progression in patients with non-muscle-invasive bladder tumors who remained tumor-free for at least 5 years, which should assist in the development of schedules of their follow-up evaluations. Non-muscle-invasive bladder tumors that recur or progress at a late time point are not rare. Methods: Between 1985 and 2002, 814 cases diagnosed with non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer were treated with transurethral resection. Of these 814 cases, 262 patients with no tumor recurrence for more than 5 years were included in the study. The median follow-up interval was 10.0 years. Results: During the follow-up period, 39 tumors (14.9%) showed tumor recurrence. The 5- and 10-year recurrence-free survival rates were 81.6% and 76.0%, respectively. There was no significant difference in tumor recurrence among the low-, intermediate-, and high-risk groups based on the current clinical guideline. Only the use of intravesical mitomycin C was determined to be a significant unfavorable risk factor for late recurrence. Five patients (1.9%) experienced stage progression, 3 of whom did not have metastases at the time of diagnosis of the progression but died because of bladder cancer disease. Conclusions: After a 5-year tumor-free period, even in the low-risk group, recurrence occurred at a late time point to a degree that was the same as that for the intermediate- and high-risk groups. Finally, some of the high-risk patients experienced late progression with a high degree of malignant behavior, suggesting longer follow-up is needed for each patient.
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