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Chemo + Radiation Best for Bladder Cancer, Study Finds
Date:4/18/2012

By Maureen Salamon
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, April 18 (HealthDay News) -- The addition of two well-tolerated chemotherapy drugs to radiation therapy led to significantly longer survival rates among patients with muscle-invasive bladder cancer.

In a new study splitting 360 patients into groups receiving radiation alone or radiation plus chemotherapy, British researchers found that those undergoing combined therapies had a 67 percent rate of local disease-free survival after two years, compared with 54 percent in the radiation group. Five-year overall survival rates were 48 percent in the chemo-radiation group, compared with 35 percent in the radiation-only group.

"Overall, the results establish that the addition of chemotherapy to radiotherapy should become standard practice for organ-preserving treatments of bladder cancer," said Dr. Manish Vira, director of the fellowship program in urologic oncology at the Arthur Smith Institute for Urology in Lake Success, N.Y. "The tried-and-true treatment method is still [bladder removal] and certainly we are moving toward a more multi-disciplinary approach."

The study is published April 19 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

About 385,000 cases of bladder cancer are diagnosed annually worldwide, according to study authors, with the average age at diagnosis over 70. For those whose cancer has invaded the bladder muscle, five-year survival rates are about 45 percent regardless of treatment.

For younger, healthier patients, bladder removal -- known as radical cystectomy -- is considered the gold standard of care for invasive bladder cancer. But older patients with co-existing medical conditions may not be as well-equipped to tolerate complications of the procedure, experts said.

The new study, the largest late-stage trial of its kind, was conducted at 45 medical facilities in the United Kingdom. Patients were randomly assigned to undergo daily
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