The median survival of patients with metastatic cancer of the urothelium who receive best supportive care only in 4-6 months. With the introduction of combination chemotherapy regimens including cisplatin and methotrexate for the management of metastatic urothelial cancer, median overall survival has doubled. Nevertheless, death due to cancer ultimately occurs in more than 80% of these patients, thus more effective therapy is required. The new available treatment modalities range from new combinations of conventional chemotherapeutic agents to combinations incorporating novel drugs like gemcitabine and the taxanes. These new combinations incorporate the new active agents in two, three or multiple drug combinations, administered either in one regimen or sequentially in various combinations and schedules intended to improve the outcome of bladder cancer patients. Ongoing phase III studies will help to define the role of these new combinations in the treatment of advanced bladder cancer. The improved understanding of the molecular biology of urothelial malignancies is helping to define the role of new prognostic indices that can direct the most appropriate choice of treatment for advanced disease. In addition, advances in the molecular biology of urothelial malignancies may allow identification of specific genetic lesions and biochemical pathways upon which future therapeutic approaches can be focused. The integration of newer biologic agents, probably to supplement rather than to supplant chemotherapeutic drugs, should be a primary direction of research with the objective to interfere with multiple aspects of bladder cancer progression.

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Critical Reviews in Oncology / Hematology
Department of Medical Oncology

Bellmunt, J, de Wit, R, Albiol, S, Tabernero, J, Albanell, J, & Baselga, J. (2003). New drugs and new approaches in metastatic bladder cancer. Critical Reviews in Oncology / Hematology (Vol. 47, pp. 195–206). doi:10.1016/S1040-8428(03)00082-9