Article image

Switch maintenance therapy slows metastatic bladder cancer

Mount Sinai researchers are reporting that using switch maintenance immunotherapy can significantly slow the progression of metastatic bladder cancer. This approach to treatment involves using immunotherapy treatment immediately after chemotherapy. 

A clinical trial was focused on more than 100 patients with urothelial carcinoma, the most common type of bladder cancer. After all of the patients were treated with the same type of chemotherapy, the experts tested an immunotherapy known as pembrolizumab in one group and used a placebo in a second group. 

Among patients in the test group, the pembrolizumab extended the time until the cancer progressed by approximately 60 percent compared with the control group.

Study lead author Dr. Matthew Galsky is the co-director of the Center of Excellence for Bladder Cancer at Mount Sinai.

“This trial, along with another recent study testing a similar approach, bolster the use of switch maintenance treatment, which will likely become a standard of care for metastatic urothelial cancer, a disease characterized by a paucity of advances in decades,” said Dr. Galsky.

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 81,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2020.

Around half of all bladder cancers are detected while the cancer is still confined to the inner layer of the bladder wall. When bladder cancer has spread to other parts of the body, it is more difficult to treat.

Stage 4 bladder cancer is referred to as “metastatic” bladder cancer. At this stage, the cancer has spread from the bladder to the abdominal wall, pelvic wall, or to distant parts of the body.

While chemo is often combined with radiation to treat metastatic bladder cancer, the new research indicates that immunotherapy drugs like pembrolizumab may also be effective as an integrative treatment.

The Mount Sinai study is the first of its kind to show that switch maintenance immunotherapy slows the spread of urothelial cancer.

The research is published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer


News coming your way
The biggest news about our planet delivered to you each day