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Bladder Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Stage II Bladder Cancer


In patients who are not willing or able to undergo radical cystectomy, definitive radiation therapy is an option that yields a 5-year survival of approximately 30%.[11,12,13] Approximately 50% of patients have dysuria and urinary frequency during treatment, which resolves several weeks after treatment, and 15% report acute toxic effects of the bowel. In addition, compared with patients treated with radical cystectomy, those treated with definitive radiation therapy report less sexual dysfunction.[14] Randomized trials, conducted from the 1950s through the 1980s, of definitive radiation therapy (with salvage cystectomy only for incomplete response or failure) versus preoperative radiation therapy followed by cystectomy have found similar or worse survival in patients who received definitive radiation therapy.[15,16,17]

Systemic chemotherapy has been incorporated with definitive radiation therapy to develop a more effective bladder-sparing approach for patients with locally advanced disease. The utility of this multimodality approach was confirmed in a prospective, randomized comparison of radiation therapy and chemoradiation therapy, which reported an improved rate of local control when cisplatin was given in conjunction with radiation therapy, even though there was no improvement in the rate of distant metastases or overall survival (OS).[18][Level of evidence: 1iiA] In some nonrandomized studies, 50% or more of the patients who had bladder-preserving therapy (i.e., initial TUR of as much tumor as possible followed by concurrent chemoradiation therapy) were alive at 5 years, and 75% of those survivors had an intact bladder.[19,20,21] In a phase III study (RTOG-8903), the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group evaluated the potential benefit of adding two cycles of neoadjuvant methotrexate, cisplatin, and vinblastine prior to concurrent cisplatin and radiation therapy, but neoadjuvant chemotherapy was associated with increased hematologic toxic effects and yielded no improvement in response rate, freedom from distant metastases, or OS when compared with chemoradiation therapy alone.[22] Because no randomized trials have directly compared the bladder-preserving chemoradiation therapy approach with radical cystectomy, it is not clear if the former is as effective as the latter. Choice of treatment should be guided by a patient's overall medical condition and by consideration of the adverse effects of therapy.

Treatment options:

  1. Radical cystectomy with or without pelvic lymph node dissection.[23]
  2. Neoadjuvant, platinum-based combination chemotherapy followed by radical cystectomy.[8]
  3. External-beam radiation therapy (EBRT) with or without concurrent chemotherapy .[11,12,13,18,19,20,21]
  4. Interstitial implantation of radioisotopes before or after EBRT.[24,25]
  5. TUR with fulguration (in selected patients).
  6. Segmental cystectomy (in selected patients).[23]

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with stage II bladder cancer. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.


WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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