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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2000 Oct;9(10):1071-8.

Randomized trial of fenretinide in superficial bladder cancer using DNA flow cytometry as an intermediate end point.

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Division of Medical Oncology II, National Cancer Institute, Genoa, Italy.


Retinoids have shown a potential activity in preventing tumor recurrence in superficial bladder cancer. We assessed the activity of the synthetic retinoid fenretinide in superficial bladder cancer using DNA flow cytometry and conventional cytology as surrogate biomarkers. A total of 99 subjects with resected superficial bladder cancer (pTa, pT1) were randomized to either fenretinide (200 mg day p.o. for 24 months) or no intervention. Cystoscopy and bladder washing for DNA flow cytometry end points (proportion of DNA aneuploid histograms, hyperdiploid fraction, and percentage of apoptotic cells) and proportion of abnormal cytological examinations were repeated every 4 months for up to 36 months. The primary study end point was the proportion of DNA aneuploid histograms after 12 months. This figure was 48.9% in the fenretinide arm and 41.9% in the control arm (odds ratio, 1.16; 95% confidence interval, 0.44-3.07). There was no difference in any other response biomarker between the two groups up to 36 months, nor was any biomarker able to predict recurrence risk. Recurrence-free survival was comparable between the arms (27 events in the fenretinide arm versus 21 in the control arm; P = 0.36). Twelve subjects in the fenretinide arm complained of diminished dark adaptability, and nine subjects in the fenretinide arm versus one control subject had mild dermatological alterations. We conclude that fenretinide showed a lack of effect on the DNA content distribution and the morphology of urothelial cells obtained in serial bladder washings. Recurrence-free survival was comparable between groups. Because our data are hampered by the lack of predictivity of the selected biomarkers, additional studies are necessary to assess the activity of fenretinide in preventing bladder cancer.

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