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Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol). 2006 Oct;18(8):608-11.

Bladder preservation in small cell carcinoma of the urinary bladder: an institutional experience and review of the literature.

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Velindre Hospital, Cardiff, UK.



Primary small cell carcinoma (SCC) of the urinary bladder is rare, accounting for less than 1% of all primary bladder malignancies. Metastases are often present at the time of diagnosis, prognosis is poor and there is no established optimum treatment strategy. Small cell carcinoma of the lung (SCLC) shares many clinicopathological features with SCC of the bladder, and there is good evidence supporting the use of combination chemotherapy in SCLC. In addition, consolidation thoracic irradiation and prophylactic cranial irradiation (PCI) both increase 3-year absolute survival by 5.4% in SCLC patients with limited disease and a complete response to chemotherapy. Therefore, we adopted a similar staging and treatment strategy for SCC of the bladder. We report our clinical experience using this strategy, and review published studies.


All cases of SCC of the bladder referred to Velindre Hospital between 1998 and 2005 were identified and data collected retrospectively on demographic details, stage, performance status, treatment and response to treatment. For the review, the electronic databases MEDLINE, EMBASE and Cancerlit were searched, along with hand searching of journals, relevant books and review papers.


Seven patients were identified. In total, six out of seven had platinum-based chemotherapy. Four patients received consolidation radiotherapy (CRT) to the bladder after a complete response to chemotherapy, and none have locally relapsed to date. The three patients with limited disease remain alive and disease free 14, 30 and 36 months after diagnosis.


Combined modality therapy using platinum-based combination chemotherapy and consolidation radiotherapy may provide effective local control and allow a bladder-preserving approach to the management of SCC of the bladder. The role of PCI is controversial, and should be discussed with patients on an individual basis.

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