Selective Bladder Preservation By Combination Treatment Of Invasive Bladder Cancer

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For patients with invasive bladder cancer the usual recommended treatment is radical cystectomy, although transurethral resection of the tumor, systemic chemotherapy, and radiotherapy are each effective in some patients. We sought to determine whether these treatments in combination might be as effective as radical cystectomy and thus might allow the bladder to be preserved and the cancer cured.


We enrolled 53 consecutive patients with muscle-invading bladder cancer (stages T2 through T4, NXM0) in a trial of transurethral surgery, combination chemotherapy, and irradiation (4000 cGy) with concurrent cisplatin administration. Urologic evaluation of the tumor response directed further therapy: radical cystectomy in the 8 patients who had incomplete responses, additional chemotherapy and radiotherapy (6480 cGy) in the 34 patients who had complete responses or who were unsuited for cystectomy, and alternative care in the 11 patients who could not tolerate either irradiation or chemotherapy.


After a median follow-up of 48 months, 24 of the 53 patients (45 percent) were alive and free of detectable tumor. In 31 patients (58 percent) the bladder was free of invasive tumor and functioning well, even though in 9 (17 percent) a superficial tumor recurred and required further transurethral surgery and intravesical drug therapy. Of the 28 patients who had complete responses after initial treatment, 89 percent had functioning tumor-free bladders.


Conservative combination treatment may be an acceptable alternative to immediate cystectomy in selected patients with bladder cancer, although a randomized clinical trial that included a group for simultaneous comparison would be required to produce definitive results. (N Engl J Med 1993;329:1377-82.)

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