Systemic therapy in bladder preservation

Daniel M. Girardi, Pooja Ghatalia, Parminder Singh, Gopa Iyer, Srikala S. Sridhar, Andrea B. Apolo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Bladder cancer is an aggressive and lethal disease. Even when presenting as localized muscle-invasive disease, the 5-year survival rate is about 70%, and the recurrence rate after radical cystectomy is approximately 50%. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) has the potential to downstage the primary tumor and treat micrometastases, leading to a decrease in recurrence rates and an increase in cure rates. There is level 1 evidence in favor of neoadjuvant cisplatin-based chemotherapy prior to radical cystectomy. However, data from clinical trials evaluating NAC for patients undergoing bladder-sparing treatments are less robust, so this strategy remains controversial. The response to NAC is prognostic and patients with favorable pathological response have better overall survival. Strategies to select patients based on molecular biomarkers have the potential to guide treatment decisions and even de-intensify treatment, avoiding local treatment for those with complete responses to systemic therapy. This review outlines the current literature on the use of NAC in the context of bladder preservation for muscle-invasive bladder cancer, highlights neoadjuvant studies in patients ineligible for cisplatin-based NAC, and discusses novel bladder-preservation strategies, including multimodality combinations and biomarker-driven studies of definitive chemotherapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-47
Number of pages9
JournalUrologic Oncology: Seminars and Original Investigations
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • Biomarker
  • Bladder sparing
  • Immunotherapy
  • Neoadjuvant chemotherapy
  • Urothelial carcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Urology


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