Prospects and progress of immunotherapy for bladder cancer

Expert Opin Biol Ther. 2017 Nov;17(11):1417-1431. doi: 10.1080/14712598.2017.1366445. Epub 2017 Aug 23.


With recent advances in immunooncology and the introduction of checkpoint inhibitors into clinical practice for many cancers, the treatment landscape of urothelial carcinoma has changed dramatically and will continue to change further. Currently, a number of compounds and combinations are under investigation in numerous clinical trials and various clinical scenarios for bladder cancer. Areas covered: In this review, the authors provide an overview of the history and rationale for immunotherapy in bladder cancer. They also provide the currently available data evaluating checkpoint inhibitors for bladder cancer, and discuss ongoing trials and future perspectives for urothelial carcinoma treatment. Expert opinion: The introduction of checkpoint inhibitors into the management of bladder cancer marks a significant milestone for this disease. Checkpoint inhibitors have the potential to impact patients across multiple disease states from non-muscle-invasive disease to metastatic tumors refractory to conventional treatment. That being said, validated biomarkers, including genetic signatures, to accurately predict response, and the establishment of optimal sequencing and combination of these immunotherapeutic agents with chemo/radiotherapy are urgently needed.

Keywords: Bladder cancer; MIBC; NMIBC; checkpoint inhibitors; immunotherapy; metastatic.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • BCG Vaccine / immunology
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy*
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Oncolytic Virotherapy
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / pathology
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / therapy*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • BCG Vaccine
  • Cytokines