Bladder cancer survival rate jumps

HOUSTON Treating locally advanced bladder cancer with neoadjuvant chemotherapy chemotherapy before surgery can offer longer life to patients compared to the standard treatment of surgery alone, according to a study published in the August 28 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

In the 11-year study of 307 patients, conducted by the Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG) and led by an investigator at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, researchers found that patients who received neoadjuvant chemotherapy lived an average of 31 months longer, and that those treated with surgery alone had a 66 percent greater chance of dying from bladder cancer than patients who had the combination therapy.

"This is an important advance, because the study shows a significant and clinically meaningful improvement in survival among patients who received chemotherapy before surgery," says the study's principal investigator, H. Barton Grossman, M.D., professor of urology at M. D. Anderson.

"Treatment of this disease varies across the country, but we believe neoadjuvant chemotherapy should be used more frequently to treat patients with locally advanced bladder cancer," he says.

Bladder cancer, considered a worldwide problem, is a leading tobacco-related cancer. In the United States, it is the fourth most common cancer in men and the eighth in women. According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 57,000 people are expected to be diagnosed with bladder cancer in this country in 2003 and an estimated 12,500 people will die of the disease.

Because of its tendency to spread, researchers have investigated a number of therapies to treat transitional cell bladder cancer (the most common form of the disease) which has invaded the bladder muscle and, therefore, is considered locally advanced. Studies to date have found that radiation therapy before surgery did not improve outcome.

With chemotherapy proving beneficial in

Contact: Laura Sussman
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

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