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J Urol. 2005 Jul;174(1):14-20.

Update on chemotherapy for advanced bladder cancer.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of California-San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA.



Recent years have seen several advances in the treatment of locally advanced and metastatic bladder cancer. We summarize the current state of the art for advanced bladder cancer treatment.


A comprehensive review of published, prospective phase II/III clinical trials and retrospective analyses of patients with advanced bladder cancer was performed.


Adjuvant and neoadjuvant chemotherapeutic strategies around the time of radical cystectomy have been used to decrease the risk of subsequent metastatic disease. Although the benefit of adjuvant chemotherapy remains unproven, neoadjuvant chemotherapy is associated with a modest 5% to 6% absolute survival benefit in 2 meta-analyses of the available data. Chemoradiation is feasible and effective in some patients, allowing bladder preservation with an acceptable risk of progression. Randomized, phase III data comparing methotrexate, vinblastine, doxorubicin and cisplatin chemotherapy to gemcitabine/cisplatin showed similar response proportions and overall survival with less toxicity in the gemcitabine/cisplatin arm. This has led to the widespread use of gemcitabine/cisplatin as first line chemotherapy for metastatic bladder cancer. The optimal agents and regimens for second line chemotherapy remain undefined. Similarly biological and targeted therapies for advanced bladder cancer remain investigational.


Combination cisplatin based neoadjuvant chemotherapy may benefit patients with locally advanced bladder cancer. Gemcitabine/cisplatin has replaced methotrexate, vinblastine, doxorubicin and cisplatin as the regimen of choice in patients with good renal function. The optimal regimens for the medically unfit patient and second line chemotherapy remain undefined. The development of targeted therapies, less toxic regimens and improved cytotoxic agents are necessary to improve outcomes.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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