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Less-Toxic Chemo Improves Outlook for Advanced Bladder Cancer

Posted Aug 18 2011 5:24pm

New data from the University of Rochester Medical Center confirms that an easier, two-drug chemotherapy regimen given to bladder cancer patients prior to surgery shrinks locally advanced tumors and completely eliminates all evidence of cancer in some patients.

Published in the journal Cancer, the study is promising news for people diagnosed with Stage 2, 3 or 4 muscle-invading bladder cancers. Typically these patients must decide whether it is best to have surgery immediately, or to try to knock down the malignancy first with pre-surgery chemotherapy. If an individual chooses the latter course, according to scientific literature the most effective regimen is a four-drug cocktail, methotrexate, vinblastine, doxorubicin, and cisplatin, (MVAC). However, MVAC tends to injure the bone marrow and cause serious infections and sometimes death.

The URMC team investigated the effect of two other chemotherapy drugs, gemcitabine and cisplatin (GC), in a series of 160 patients treated at the University’s Strong Memorial Hospital from 1999 to 2009, and found that GC is a good substitute with fewer side effects.

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