Background: Controversy exists as to whether neoadjuvant chemotherapy improves survival in patients with invasive bladder cancer, despite randomised controlled trials of more than 3000 patients. We undertook a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the effect of such treatment on survival in patients with this disease.
Methods: We analysed updated data for 2688 individual patients from ten available randomised trials.
Findings: Platinum-based combination chemotherapy showed a significant benefit to overall survival (combined hazard ratio [HR] 0.87 [95% CI 0.78-0.98, p=0.016]; 13% reduction in risk of death; 5% absolute benefit at 5 years [1-7]; overall survival increased from 45% to 50%). This effect was observed irrespective of the type of local treatment, and did not vary between subgroups of patients. The HR for all trials, including those using single-agent cisplatin, tended to favour neoadjuvant chemotherapy (HR=0.91, 95% CI 0.83-1.01) although this tendency was not significant (p=0.084). Although platinum based combination chemotherapy was beneficial, there was no evidence to support the use of single-agent platinum; indeed, there was a significant difference in the effect between these groups of trials (p=0.044).
Interpretation: This improvement in survival encourages the use of platinum-based combination chemotherapy for patients with invasive bladder cancer.