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Acta Oncol. 2001;40(2-3):371-90.

A systematic overview of chemotherapy effects in urothelial bladder cancer.

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Radiumhemmet, Stockholm, Sweden.


A systematic review of chemotherapy trials in several tumour types was performed by The Swedish Council of Technology Assessment in Health Care (SBU). The procedures for the evaluation of the scientific literature are described separately (Acta Oncol 2001; 40: 155-65). This synthesis of the literature on chemotherapy for urothelial bladder cancer is based on 234 scientific reports including two meta-analyses, 75 randomised studies and 143 other prospective studies, and totally comprising 31,974 patients. The conclusions reached can be summarised into the following points: Intravesical chemotherapy administered in an adjuvant setting to transurethral resection (TUR-B) of superficial tumour reduces short-term (one to three years) recurrence rate by approximately 20%. After a median follow-up of eight years, 8%, fewer recurrences were seen after intravesical chemotherapy. Long-term maintenance instillation chemotherapy ( > 1 year) does not further increase the recurrence-free interval nor the long-term recurrence rate when compared with immediate postoperative short-term intravesical chemotherapy. The majority of studies on intravesical Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vs intravesical chemotherapy show superior protection from tumour recurrence for BCG. Despite prolongation of the disease-free survival, adjuvant intravesical chemotherapy has, in the majority of studies, no apparent long-term impact on the evolution of superficial into muscle invasive bladder cancer. There are no data showing a survival benefit from adjuvant intravesical chemotherapy. Chemotherapy with cisplatin-based regimens induce objective tumour response in at least 50% of patients with metastatic disease. A prolonged disease-free and overall survival (median two to three months) is seen in patients treated with cisplatin-based polychemotherapy compared with patients treated with cisplatin alone or less intensive chemotherapy. With the exception of one randomised study, there are no conclusive data on possible survival benefit for patients with muscle-invasive bladder cancer treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy prior to cystectomy or radiotherapy. Although the results from use of adjuvant chemotherapy after surgery or curative radiotherapy obtained are promising, the small studies performed lack statistical power and, hence, there is insufficient data to make any conclusion regarding a possible survival benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy. A growing body of data indicate that bladder preservation can be achieved by multi-modality approach in selected patients and that survival in these is similar to that seen after radical cystectomy, but randomised trials are still lacking.

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