The Lank Center for Genitourinary Oncology's Bladder Cancer Program at Dana-Farber provides leading-edge research and care to patients with bladder cancer, with a multi-pronged strategy whose ultimate goal is to cure more bladder cancer patients.
Chemotherapy and Immunotherapy
Chemotherapy with platinum drugs has been used to improve outcomes of patients with metastatic bladder cancer. More recently, there has been significant progress in the treatment of advanced bladder cancer after the approvals of PD1 and PD-L1 inhibitor immunotherapy drugs since 2016. These immunotherapy drugs can control the cancer for prolonged periods in some patients.
Despite these advances, most patients do not respond to the PD1 and PD-L1 inhibitors, and there is a need to improve treatment options for advanced bladder cancer. Platinum-based chemotherapy given intravenously before bladder removal surgery (radical cystectomy) for cancer invading the muscle layer beneath the superficial cells has proven to improve survival. However, many patients with muscle-invasive bladder cancer still have recurrent disease after radical cystectomy.
For cancers not invading the muscle, a weakened tuberculosis bacterium (BCG) is administered into the bladder to reduce the risk of regrowth of cancer after removal of tumor during a bladder scope procedure (cystoscopy). However, if the non-invasive cancer returns after BCG administration, the more aggressive cancers are treated by radical cystectomy.