Conservative Management Following Complete Clinical Response to Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy of Muscle Invasive Bladder Cancer: Contemporary Outcomes of a Multi-Institutional Cohort Study

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PurposeWe report the outcomes in patients with muscle invasive bladder cancer from 2 institutions who experienced a clinically complete response to neoadjuvant platinum based chemotherapy and elected active surveillance. It was unknown whether conservative treatment could be safely implemented in these patients.Materials and MethodsWe retrospectively reviewed the records of patients with muscle invasive bladder cancer at our institutions who elected surveillance following a clinically complete response to transurethral resection of bladder tumors and neoadjuvant chemotherapy from 2001 to 2017. A clinically complete response was defined as absent tumor on post-chemotherapy transurethral resection of bladder tumor, negative cytology and normal cross-sectional imaging.ResultsIn the 148 patients followed a median of 55 months (range 5 to 145) the 5-year disease specific, overall, cystectomy-free and recurrence-free survival rates were 90%, 86%, 76% and 64%, respectively. Of the patients 71 (48%) experienced recurrence in the bladder, including 16 (11%) with muscle invasive disease and 55 (37%) with noninvasive disease. Salvage radical cystectomy prevented cancer specific death in 9 of 12 patients (75%) who underwent cystectomy after muscle invasive relapse and in 13 of 14 (93%) after noninvasive relapse.ConclusionsWe observed high rates of overall and disease specific survival with bladder preservation in patients who achieved a clinically complete response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy. These outcomes support the safety of active surveillance in carefully selected, closely monitored patients with muscle invasive bladder cancer. Future studies should aim to improve patient selection by identifying biomarkers predicting invasive relapse and developing novel imaging methods of early detection.

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