Bladder cancer treatment can be better targeted and more effective, trials show

Testing for tumour DNA in the blood can successfully identify advanced bladder cancer patients who will not relapse following surgery, new research shows.

Fri, 5 Apr 2024
Bladder CancerOncologyEAU 24MIBC

This could allow doctors to target treatments more effectively to those who need it, and spare those patients for whom further treatment is unnecessary, researchers say.

The findings from the screening phase of the IMvigor011 Phase III trial are presented today [Friday 5 April] at the European Association of Urology Congress in Paris.

They show that just over 90% of muscle-invasive bladder cancer (MIBC) patients with a negative circulating DNA (ctDNA) test following surgery, which remained negative on follow-up, did not relapse. The findings mean that the use of a ctDNA test could allow some patients to be spared further treatment with minimal risk.

MIBC is an advanced form of bladder cancer, where the tumour has spread into the bladder wall. The disease is usually treated by surgery to remove the bladder. Around half of patients see cancer return, often in the lungs and usually within two-to-three years. All patients are currently offered follow-up treatment such as chemotherapy or immunotherapy to prevent recurrence, for which the side effects can be serious and life-changing.

Other Phase III trial results, also presented at the EAU Congress today, show that patients given immunotherapy, nivolumab, as a follow-up to surgery have an average survival of nearly six years, compared to four for patients on placebo.

The CheckMate 274 trial has already shown that nivolumab can reduce recurrence of disease, but these interim results are the first to show the potential benefit in overall survival for MIBC patients.