Neoadjuvant chemotherapy improves the survival of patients with high-risk urothelial cancer. However, the lack of curative alternatives to cisplatin-based chemotherapy is limiting for patients with neuropathy or hearing loss. Sequential chemotherapy also has not been well studied in the neoadjuvant setting. The authors explored sequential neoadjuvant ifosfamide-based chemotherapy in a patient cohort at high risk of noncurative cystectomy.
Patients with muscle-invasive cancer and lymphovascular invasion, hydronephrosis, clinical T3b and T4a (cT3b-4a) disease (defined as a 3-dimensional mass on examination under anesthetic or invasion into local organs), micropapillary tumors, or upper tract disease received 3 cycles of combined ifosfamide, doxorubicin, and gemcitabine followed by 4 cycles of combined cisplatin, gemcitabine, and ifosfamide. The primary endpoint was downstaging to pT1N0M0 disease or lower.
At a median follow-up of 85.3 months, the 5-year overall survival (OS) and disease-specific survival (DSS) rates for all 65 patients were 63% and 68%, respectively (95% confidence interval: 5-year OS rate, 0.52%-0.76%; 5-year DSS rate, 0.58%-0.81%). Pathologic downstaging to pT1N0 disease or lower occurred in 50% of patients who underwent cystectomy and in 60% of patients who underwent nephroureterectomy and was correlated with the 5-year OS rate (pT1N0 disease or lower, 87%; pT2-pT3aN0 disease, 67%; and pT3b disease or higher or lymph node-negative disease, 27%; P ≤ .001 for pT1 or lower vs pT2 or higher). Variant histology was associated with an inferior 5-year DSS rate (50% vs 83% in pure transitional cell carcinoma; P = .02). The most frequent grade 3 toxicities were infection (38%), febrile neutropenia (22%), and mucositis (18%). There were 3 grade 4 toxicities (myocardial infarction, thrombocytopenia, and vomiting) and 1 grade 5 toxicity in a patient who refused antibiotics for pneumonia.
Sequential therapy was active and maintained the historic expectation of achieving a cure. The current results strongly reinforced previous experience suggesting that pathologic downstaging to pT1N0 disease or less is a useful surrogate for eventual cure in patients with urothelial cancer. Cancer 2013. © 2012 American Cancer Society.