Optimal delivery of perioperative chemotherapy: preliminary results of a randomized, prospective, comparative trial of preoperative and postoperative chemotherapy for invasive bladder carcinoma

J Urol. 1996 Apr;155(4):1241-5. doi: 10.1016/s0022-5347(01)66230-x.


Purpose: We performed a planned interim analysis of a randomized trial comparing initial to postoperative chemotherapy for bladder cancer. The purpose of our analysis was to detect early evidence of survival differences, tolerance to therapy influenced by the sequence of treatment, predictive value of clinical state and influence of methotrexate, vinblastine, doxorubucin and cisplatin (M-VAC) on bladder resectability.

Materials and methods: A total of 100 consecutive patients were randomized to receive 2 M-VAC courses before and 3 courses after surgery (group 1) or 5 adjuvant M-VAC courses following cystectomy (group 2). Survival, clinical response, clinical and pathological stage, and toxicity were evaluated in this second timed interim analysis.

Results: Of all patients 70% received at least 4 M-VAC courses. Overall survival at 31.7 months (range 1.8 to 87.7) was similar in groups 1 (60%) and 2 (63%), and independent of clinical stage. Preoperative clinical staging accurately identified patients at high risk for recurrence, while 37 of the 48 group 2 patients (77%) were considered at high risk by pathological staging (P3b, P4a, node-positive and unresectable disease). Comparison of pathological stage revealed that 14 of the 51 group 1 patients (28%) achieved stage P0 while only 1 of the 48 group 2 patients (2%) had P0 disease at surgery (p= 0.00043). Disease was unresectable in 3 group 1 (6%) and 8 group 2 patients (17%, p= 0.09). Tolerance to treatment was not significantly different in the 2 study arms.

Conclusions: No survival advantage was noted between neoadjuvant and adjuvant M-VAC in our interim analysis. However, results suggest that M-VAC chemotherapy may be effective in increasing the resectability of localized bladder cancer and may contribute to organ preservation. Clinical stage was a reliable predictor of pathological findings at surgery. Future studies can use clinical staging to determine therapy before surgery for the select stages that we treated. Identification of the subset likely to achieve complete pathological remission will permit the selection of patients for organ preservation strategies.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Cisplatin / therapeutic use
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Cystectomy
  • Doxorubicin / therapeutic use
  • Drug Tolerance
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methotrexate / therapeutic use
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Care
  • Preoperative Care
  • Prospective Studies
  • Survival Rate
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / mortality
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Vinblastine / therapeutic use


  • Vinblastine
  • Doxorubicin
  • Cisplatin
  • Methotrexate

Supplementary concepts

  • M-VAC protocol