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Bladder Cancer Health Center

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


Single-agent cisplatin and multiagent regimens that do not include cisplatin have never been shown to improve survival in a randomized controlled trial. Thus, for patients who are not candidates for cisplatin-based multiagent chemotherapy regimens, there is no regimen that has been shown to prolong their survival. Many regimens have been shown to be active, however, with regard to producing radiologically-measurable responses.

These include carboplatin plus paclitaxel,[8] carboplatin plus gemcitabine,[9,10,11] paclitaxel plus gemcitabine,[12,13,14] single-agent gemcitabine,[15,16] and single-agent paclitaxel.[17,18,19] The regimens of carboplatin, methotrexate, and vinblastine; carboplatin, epirubicin, methotrexate, and vinblastine; and paclitaxel, gemcitabine, and carboplatin have been studied but are not widely used.[20,21,22,23]

Ongoing studies are evaluating new chemotherapy combinations.

Evidence (chemotherapy):

  1. A prospective randomized trial that compared MVAC with cisplatin, cyclophosphamide, and doxorubicin demonstrated improved response and median survival rates (48 weeks vs. 36 weeks; P = .003) with the MVAC regimen.[25]
  2. Results from a randomized trial that compared MVAC with single-agent cisplatin in advanced bladder cancer also showed a significant advantage with MVAC in both response rate and median survival (12.5 months vs. 8.2 months; P = .002).[26]
  3. A multicenter randomized controlled trial compared CMV with methotrexate plus vinblastine without cisplatin in 214 patients. The relative risk of dying was 0.68 (95% CI, 0.51-0.90; P = .0065) in favor of CMV. The median survival was 7 months with CMV compared with 4.5 months for methotrexate plus vinblastine.[27]
  4. The EORTC conducted another randomized trial that studied 263 patients with advanced bladder cancer and evaluated the efficacy of a high-dose intensity MVAC regimen given every 2 weeks with G-CSF compared with a classic MVAC regimen given every 4 weeks.[28]
    • Although there was no significant difference in OS at a median follow-up of 3.2 years (HR, 0.80; 95% CI, 0.60-1.06; P = .122), an update at a median follow-up of 7.3 years reported that the high-dose intensity MVAC regimen was associated with improved OS (HR, 0.76; 95% CI, 0.58-0.99; P = .042), with a 5-year survival rate of 22%, compared with 14% in patients treated with the classic MVAC regimen.
    • The high-dose intensity MVAC regimen was also associated with higher response rates (72% vs. 58%; P = .016), improved median progression-free survival (9.5 months vs. 8.1 months; P = .017), and decreased neutropenic fever (10% vs. 26%, P < .001), although only 19% of patients treated with a classic MVAC regimen ever received G-CSF.[28][Level of evidence: 1iiA] An imbalance in baseline prognostic factors (i.e., visceral metastases were found in 37 patients randomly assigned to the high-dose MVAC regimen and 47 patients assigned to the classic MVAC regimen) may account, in part, for these results.
  5. Gemcitabine plus cisplatin:
    • In a multicenter randomized phase III trial that compared GC with the MVAC regimen in 405 patients with advanced or metastatic bladder cancer, GC yielded response rates, time-to-progression, and OS (HR = 1.04; 95% CI, 0.82-1.32; P = .75) similar to MVAC, but GC had a better safety profile and was better tolerated than MVAC.
    • Although this study was not designed to show the equivalence of the two regimens, the similar efficacy and reduced toxic effects of GC make it a reasonable alternative in patients who may not tolerate the MVAC regimen.[29][Level of evidence: 1iiA]
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