A combination treatment helps patients with bladder cancer live longer, according to a new study. The research shows patients who receive chemotherapy plus surgery survive longer than patients who only have surgery. Doctors call this an important advance in the treatment of this deadly disease.
Bladder cancer is the fourth most common cancer in men and the eighth most common cancer in women. According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 57,000 people will be diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2003 and 12,500 will die of the disease. Investigators at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center conducted a study to determine if chemotherapy plus surgery could help patients live longer.
Researchers found patients treated with surgery alone lived 41 months compared to 77 months in patients who had the combination treatment. Specifically, 77 patients in the surgery only group died and 54 patients died in the group receiving chemotherapy. Patients who had surgery only had a 66-percent greater risk of dying from bladder cancer than those who received the combination therapy. Researchers say 10 years after treatment, some of the patients in the combination therapy group are still alive, and therefore the treatment provided a cure for them.
Researchers say treatment for bladder cancer varies across the country, but they believe a combination approach should be used more often for patients with locally advanced bladder cancer. They believe this study shows chemotherapy plus surgery is more effective at eliminating the cancer and is associated with improved survival.