M-VAC (methotrexate, vinblastine, doxorubicin and cisplatin) for advanced transitional cell carcinoma of the urothelium

J Urol. 1988 Mar;139(3):461-9. doi: 10.1016/s0022-5347(17)42494-3.


Of 92 patients who received methotrexate, vinblastine, doxorubicin and cisplatin complete and partial remissions were observed in 69 +/- 10 per cent of 83 adequately treated measurable and evaluable patients with advanced stages (N+M0 and N0M+) transitional cell urothelial cancer. Complete remission was achieved in 37 +/- 10 per cent of the patients clinically, pathologically and after surgical resection of residual disease. With 17 of 31 complete responders (55 per cent) surviving for 26+ to 49+ months, the estimated probability of survival at 2 and 3 years was 71 and 55 per cent, respectively. Partial remission occurred in 31 +/- 10 per cent of the patients, while 8 per cent had a minor response and 23 per cent had progression with median survivals of 11, 11 and 7 months, respectively. Whereas all metastatic sites responded, including the bone and liver, complete tumor regression was observed more frequently with nodal, pulmonary and local-regional lesions. Brain metastases occurred within 6 to 42 months in 18 per cent of the responders, half of whom never had systemic relapse. Of the remaining 9 patients 2 with nontransitional cell histological tumors did not respond, 5 (5 per cent) were inadequately treated and 2 were excluded from response data because of inevaluable disease parameters but they were free of disease at 16+ and 31+ months. Toxicity was significant, with 20 per cent of the patients experiencing nadir sepsis, 4 per cent a drug-related death, 31 per cent +1 renal toxicity and 41 per cent +1 mucositis. The applications and advantages of the newly proposed international response criteria for bladder cancer are discussed in reference to 25 patients who underwent surgical re-staging, indicating that the disease was understaged clinically in 24 per cent (T less than P), as well as in reference to attainment of true (pathological) complete remission and to other urothelial tract trials. While this therapy seems to have limited antitumor activity against nontransitional cell histological cancer, stage Tis disease and later development of de novo lesions, the regimen is efficacious in selected patients with advanced urothelial tract transitional cell carcinoma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Carcinoma, Transitional Cell / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Transitional Cell / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Transitional Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Transitional Cell / secondary
  • Cisplatin / administration & dosage
  • Cisplatin / adverse effects
  • Doxorubicin / administration & dosage
  • Doxorubicin / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methotrexate / administration & dosage
  • Methotrexate / adverse effects
  • Middle Aged
  • Urologic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Urologic Neoplasms / mortality
  • Urologic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Vinblastine / administration & dosage
  • Vinblastine / adverse effects


  • Vinblastine
  • Doxorubicin
  • Cisplatin
  • Methotrexate

Supplementary concepts

  • M-VAC protocol