Chemotherapy improves bladder cancer outcomes

Chemotherapy drugs and radiotherapy in combination can lower tumour recurrence in patients with bladder cancer, research shows.

A study showed combining two common chemotherapy drugs with standard radiotherapy was more effective at reducing risk of recurrence than radiotherapy alone.

It could mean fewer patients with invasive bladder cancer will need radical surgery to completely remove their bladder, according to the team at the University of Birmingham and the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR).

The findings will be presented next week at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO) annual conference.

In the study, the team looked at recurrence rates in patients who were prescribed either two chemotherapy drugs – 5FU and Mitomycin C – at the same time as radiotherapy, or radiotherapy alone.

After two years, results showed patients in the chemotherapy group had relapse rates of 33%, compared to 46% among those receiving radiotherapy alone.

There was an even greater reduction in occurrence of the most severe tumour type, at 18% versus 32% for the two groups respectively.

Professor Nick James of the University of Birmingham said: ‘Having surgery to remove the bladder is a major operation that can seriously impact a patient’s quality of life.

‘We have shown that adding chemotherapy to radiotherapy reduces the risk of the most severe type of tumour recurring by nearly half.’

He added: ‘Hopefully these trial results will mean more bladder cancer patients are given the opportunity to avoid surgery and preserve their bladder function.’

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