Bladder Cancer

Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer is one of the most common cancers in the United States, especially among people over age 70. Much is now known about its causes, offering the potential to reduce new cases in the years ahead.

Evidence-based surgical innovations and treatment refinements have led to steadily improved outcomes and quality of life for patients with the disease. Nevertheless, long-term survival rates have improved only slightly since the 1970s, in part due to bladder cancer receiving less research attention and resources than other common cancers. In fact, no new drugs have been approved specifically for bladder cancer in more than 20 years. Yet, researchers are hopeful that current clinical trials of targeted drugs will result in new, more effective treatment options for patients. 

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2016

First new treatment for bladder cancer in three decades

First new treatment for bladder cancer in three decades

The FDA approves atezolizumab (Tecentriq) for treatment of advanced urothelial carcinoma, the most common form of bladder cancer. With this approval, atezolizumab becomes the first new bladder cancer treatment in 30 years and the first PD-L1 immune checkpoint inhibitor approved for any use. The approval follows an early clinical trial in which atezolizumab rapidly shrank tumors in patients with previously treated advanced urothelial cancer, particularly those with high levels of PD-L1 in the tumor and immune cells.

2015

Immediate chemotherapy after surgery for advanced bladder cancer offers advantages

Immediate chemotherapy after surgery for advanced bladder cancer offers advantages

For the first time, a study shows that starting chemotherapy immediately following surgery is beneficial for patients with cancer that has spread beyond the bladder, compared to delaying chemotherapy until the cancer returns. While survival is similar with either approach, immediate chemotherapy was associated with longer time until the cancer worsens and fewer side effects.

Additional research will explore whether certain subgroups of patients may benefit more from each approach.

2008

Specialized CT scan improves bladder cancer detection

Specialized CT scan improves bladder cancer detection

The so-called CT urograph emerges as an effective, non-invasive strategy for detecting new and recurring cancers. The test, which is done externally, evaluates both the upper and lower tracts of the bladder and nearby lymph nodes. CT urography can help determine which patients need more invasive diagnostic procedures, sparing those who do not.

2003

Pre-surgical chemotherapy proven to extend survival

2000

New treatment alternative for advanced bladder cancer

New treatment alternative for advanced bladder cancer

While the MVAC chemotherapy regimen (methotrexate, vinblastine, doxorubicin, and cisplatin) remains the standard of care for patients with advanced bladder cancer, some patients, including those who are older and have other health problems, cannot tolerate its side effects. In 2000, researchers demonstrate that a new chemotherapy combination regimen using gemcitabine (Gemzar) together with cisplatin is comparably effective but has relatively fewer side effects than standard MVAC.