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


Many other doublet and singlet noncisplatin chemotherapy regimens, such as gemcitabine plus paclitaxel, have been studied in healthier subjects with advanced-stage urothelial carcinoma.[21,22,23,24] Studies of these regimens have reported longer survival in unselected subjects than in subjects selected on the basis of impaired renal function and/or poor performance status. In the absence of any published randomized controlled trials showing improved outcomes with a noncisplatin regimen, it is impossible to know whether any of those regimens benefit patients.

For patients with T4b, N0, M0 and Any T, N1–N3, M0 disease:

Treatment options:

  1. Radical cystectomy with pelvic lymph node dissection.[2,25,26]
  2. External-beam radiation therapy (EBRT).[27,28]
  3. Urinary diversion or cystectomy for palliation.
  4. Chemotherapy as an adjunct to local treatment as seen in the RTOG-8512 trial, for example.[29,30,31,32,33]

For patients with Any T, Any N, M1 disease:

Standard treatment options:

  1. Chemotherapy alone or as an adjunct to local treatment.[3,4,9]
  2. EBRT for palliation.
  3. Urinary diversion or cystectomy for palliation.

Treatment options under clinical evaluation:

  • Other chemotherapy regimens appear active in the treatment of metastatic disease. Chemotherapy agents that have shown activity in metastatic bladder cancer include paclitaxel, docetaxel, ifosfamide, gallium nitrate, gemcitabine, and pemetrexed.[34,35,36][Level of evidence: 3iiiDiv]

Current Clinical Trials

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

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.


  1. Vieweg J, Gschwend JE, Herr HW, et al.: The impact of primary stage on survival in patients with lymph node positive bladder cancer. J Urol 161 (1): 72-6, 1999.
  2. Konety BR, Joslyn SA, O'Donnell MA: Extent of pelvic lymphadenectomy and its impact on outcome in patients diagnosed with bladder cancer: analysis of data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program data base. J Urol 169 (3): 946-50, 2003.
  3. Logothetis CJ, Dexeus FH, Finn L, et al.: A prospective randomized trial comparing MVAC and CISCA chemotherapy for patients with metastatic urothelial tumors. J Clin Oncol 8 (6): 1050-5, 1990.
  4. Loehrer PJ Sr, Einhorn LH, Elson PJ, et al.: A randomized comparison of cisplatin alone or in combination with methotrexate, vinblastine, and doxorubicin in patients with metastatic urothelial carcinoma: a cooperative group study. J Clin Oncol 10 (7): 1066-73, 1992.
  5. Vaughn DJ, Malkowicz SB, Zoltick B, et al.: Paclitaxel plus carboplatin in advanced carcinoma of the urothelium: an active and tolerable outpatient regimen. J Clin Oncol 16 (1): 255-60, 1998.
  6. Redman BG, Smith DC, Flaherty L, et al.: Phase II trial of paclitaxel and carboplatin in the treatment of advanced urothelial carcinoma. J Clin Oncol 16 (5): 1844-8, 1998.
  7. Small EJ, Lew D, Redman BG, et al.: Southwest Oncology Group Study of paclitaxel and carboplatin for advanced transitional-cell carcinoma: the importance of survival as a clinical trial end point. J Clin Oncol 18 (13): 2537-44, 2000.
  8. Bajorin DF: Paclitaxel in the treatment of advanced urothelial cancer. Oncology (Huntingt) 14 (1): 43-52, 57; discussion 58, 61-2, 2000.
  9. von der Maase H, Hansen SW, Roberts JT, et al.: Gemcitabine and cisplatin versus methotrexate, vinblastine, doxorubicin, and cisplatin in advanced or metastatic bladder cancer: results of a large, randomized, multinational, multicenter, phase III study. J Clin Oncol 18 (17): 3068-77, 2000.
  10. Sternberg CN, de Mulder P, Schornagel JH, et al.: Seven year update of an EORTC phase III trial of high-dose intensity M-VAC chemotherapy and G-CSF versus classic M-VAC in advanced urothelial tract tumours. Eur J Cancer 42 (1): 50-4, 2006.
  11. Bamias A, Aravantinos G, Deliveliotis C, et al.: Docetaxel and cisplatin with granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) versus MVAC with G-CSF in advanced urothelial carcinoma: a multicenter, randomized, phase III study from the Hellenic Cooperative Oncology Group. J Clin Oncol 22 (2): 220-8, 2004.
  12. Mead GM, Russell M, Clark P, et al.: A randomized trial comparing methotrexate and vinblastine (MV) with cisplatin, methotrexate and vinblastine (CMV) in advanced transitional cell carcinoma: results and a report on prognostic factors in a Medical Research Council study. MRC Advanced Bladder Cancer Working Party. Br J Cancer 78 (8): 1067-75, 1998.
  13. Petrioli R, Frediani B, Manganelli A, et al.: Comparison between a cisplatin-containing regimen and a carboplatin-containing regimen for recurrent or metastatic bladder cancer patients. A randomized phase II study. Cancer 77 (2): 344-51, 1996.
  14. Bellmunt J, Ribas A, Eres N, et al.: Carboplatin-based versus cisplatin-based chemotherapy in the treatment of surgically incurable advanced bladder carcinoma. Cancer 80 (10): 1966-72, 1997.
  15. Bellmunt J, de Wit R, Albanell J, et al.: A feasibility study of carboplatin with fixed dose of gemcitabine in "unfit" patients with advanced bladder cancer. Eur J Cancer 37 (17): 2212-5, 2001.
  16. De Santis M, Bellmunt J, Mead B, et al.: Randomized phase II/III study assessing gemcitabine/carboplatin (GC) and methotrexate/carboplatin/vinblastine (M-CAVI) in previously untreated patients (pts) with advanced urothelial cancer ineligible for cisplatin based chemotherapy: phase II results of. [Abstract] American Society of Clinical Oncology 2008 Genitourinary Cancers Symposium, Feb 14-16, 2008, San Francisco, CA. A-288, 2008.
  17. Dimopoulos MA, Deliveliotis C, Moulopoulos LA, et al.: Treatment of patients with metastatic urothelial carcinoma and impaired renal function with single-agent docetaxel. Urology 52 (1): 56-60, 1998.
  18. Dreicer R, Gustin DM, See WA, et al.: Paclitaxel in advanced urothelial carcinoma: its role in patients with renal insufficiency and as salvage therapy. J Urol 156 (5): 1606-8, 1996.
  19. Linardou H, Aravantinos G, Efstathiou E, et al.: Gemcitabine and carboplatin combination as first-line treatment in elderly patients and those unfit for cisplatin-based chemotherapy with advanced bladder carcinoma: Phase II study of the Hellenic Co-operative Oncology Group. Urology 64 (3): 479-84, 2004.
  20. Yang MH, Yen CC, Chang YH, et al.: Single agent paclitaxel as a first-line therapy in advanced urothelial carcinoma: its efficacy and safety in patients even with pretreatment renal insufficiency. Jpn J Clin Oncol 30 (12): 547-52, 2000.
  21. Sternberg CN, Calabrò F, Pizzocaro G, et al.: Chemotherapy with an every-2-week regimen of gemcitabine and paclitaxel in patients with transitional cell carcinoma who have received prior cisplatin-based therapy. Cancer 92 (12): 2993-8, 2001.
  22. Vaughn DJ: Chemotherapeutic options for cisplatin-ineligible patients with advanced carcinoma of the urothelium. Cancer Treat Rev 34 (4): 328-38, 2008.
  23. Kaufman DS, Carducci MA, Kuzel TM, et al.: A multi-institutional phase II trial of gemcitabine plus paclitaxel in patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial cancer. Urol Oncol 22 (5): 393-7, 2004 Sep-Oct.
  24. Calabrò F, Lorusso V, Rosati G, et al.: Gemcitabine and paclitaxel every 2 weeks in patients with previously untreated urothelial carcinoma. Cancer 115 (12): 2652-9, 2009.
  25. Thrasher JB, Crawford ED: Current management of invasive and metastatic transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder. J Urol 149 (5): 957-72, 1993.
  26. Grossman HB, Natale RB, Tangen CM, et al.: Neoadjuvant chemotherapy plus cystectomy compared with cystectomy alone for locally advanced bladder cancer. N Engl J Med 349 (9): 859-66, 2003.
  27. Jahnson S, Pedersen J, Westman G: Bladder carcinoma--a 20-year review of radical irradiation therapy. Radiother Oncol 22 (2): 111-7, 1991.
  28. Coppin CM, Gospodarowicz MK, James K, et al.: Improved local control of invasive bladder cancer by concurrent cisplatin and preoperative or definitive radiation. The National Cancer Institute of Canada Clinical Trials Group. J Clin Oncol 14 (11): 2901-7, 1996.
  29. Kachnic LA, Kaufman DS, Heney NM, et al.: Bladder preservation by combined modality therapy for invasive bladder cancer. J Clin Oncol 15 (3): 1022-9, 1997.
  30. Tester W, Porter A, Asbell S, et al.: Combined modality program with possible organ preservation for invasive bladder carcinoma: results of RTOG protocol 85-12. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 25 (5): 783-90, 1993.
  31. Logothetis CJ, Johnson DE, Chong C, et al.: Adjuvant chemotherapy of bladder cancer: a preliminary report. J Urol 139 (6): 1207-11, 1988.
  32. Skinner DG, Daniels JR, Russell CA, et al.: The role of adjuvant chemotherapy following cystectomy for invasive bladder cancer: a prospective comparative trial. J Urol 145 (3): 459-64; discussion 464-7, 1991.
  33. Scher HI: Chemotherapy for invasive bladder cancer: neoadjuvant versus adjuvant. Semin Oncol 17 (5): 555-65, 1990.
  34. Raghavan D, Huben R: Management of bladder cancer. Curr Probl Cancer 19 (1): 1-64, 1995 Jan-Feb.
  35. Vogelzang NJ, Stadler WM: Gemcitabine and other new chemotherapeutic agents for the treatment of metastatic bladder cancer. Urology 53 (2): 243-50, 1999.
  36. Sweeney CJ, Roth BJ, Kabbinavar FF, et al.: Phase II study of pemetrexed for second-line treatment of transitional cell cancer of the urothelium. J Clin Oncol 24 (21): 3451-7, 2006.

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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