Outcomes of patients undergoing radiation therapy for bladder cancer

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Salman Hasan
Eva Mercedes Galvan
Courtney Shaver
Michael Hermans
Chul Soo Ha
Gregory P. Swanson


bladder cancer, combined-modality therapy, palliative care, radiation therapy


Objectives: To review our two institutional experiences regarding the historical referral patterns of bladder cancer patients to receive radiation therapy, characteristics of these referred patients, and their treatment outcomes.

Methods: A retrospective review was performed analyzing patients who underwent radiation therapy for bladder cancer from 2005 to 2015 (n = 69) at two regional referral institutions. The age-adjusted Charlson comorbidity index (AACCI) was calculated for each patient. Patients were divided into three groups: definitive concurrent chemoradiation (CCR), aggressive radiation (AR) alone ≥ 50 Gy, or palliative radiation alone (PR) < 50 Gy. Gastrointestinal (GI) and genitourinary (GU) acute toxicities were recorded.

Results: The median overall AACCI score was 7, which correlates to a two-year expected survival of 55% ± 11%. Thirty-five (50.7%) patients received CCR, 19 (27.5%) received AR, and 15 (21.7%) received PR. Patients presented with hematuria (n = 43, 62%), pain (n = 18, 26%), or obstruction (n = 12, 17%). Of symptomatic patients, treatment improved hematuria in 86%, pain in 75%, and obstruction in 42%. Twenty-two recurrences (32%) were identified at follow-up. Local, regional, and distant recurrences developed in 20%, 14%, and 17% of patients who received CCR. There were two grade 3 GU toxicities and one grade 3 GI toxicity; all grade 3 toxicities were in patients receiving CCR.

Conclusions: Bladder preservation is possible with chemoradiation therapy; however, urologists rarely refer patients for consideration of chemoradiation. The limited patients who are referred for radiation generally have limited life expectancy, significant comorbidities, or have advanced disease amenable only to palliation. Palliative radiation improves symptoms with minimal toxicity.


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