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Br J Cancer. 2004 Feb 9;90(3):578-81.

Selective bladder preservation for muscle-invasive transitional cell carcinoma of the urinary bladder.

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Departments of Hematology/Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.


Invasive transitional cell carcinoma (TCC) of the urinary bladder is traditionally treated with radical cystectomy. This approach results in great morbidity and lifestyle changes, and approximately half of the patients treated in this way will experience recurrent TCC despite surgery. An alternative approach using selective bladder-preservation techniques incorporates transurethral resection of bladder tumours, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Over the past 20 years, international experience has demonstrated that this approach is feasible, safe, and well tolerated. Furthermore, the long-term outcomes of overall survival and disease-free survival compare favourably with the outcomes from radical cystectomy. The most important predictor of response is stage, with significantly higher long-term survival in patients with T2 disease. Another important positive predictor of complete response to therapy is the ability of the urologic oncologist to remove all visible tumour through a transurethral approach prior to initiation of radiation therapy. A negative predictive factor is the presence of hydronephrosis, and age and gender do not affect disease-free survival. The majority of patients who enjoy long-term survival do so with an intact native bladder. Quality of life studies have demonstrated that the retained bladder functions well in nearly all of these patients. Selective bladder preservation will not entirely take the place of radical cystectomy, but should be offered as an important alternative to patients newly diagnosed with muscle-invasive TCC.

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