Surgical Challenges and Considerations in Tri-Modal Therapy for Muscle Invasive Bladder Cancer

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Urologic Oncology: Seminars and Original Investigations


Trimodal therapy (TMT) for muscle invasive bladder cancer has become an accepted alternative to radical cystectomy and has become integrated into national guidelines as standard a treatment option. The urologist plays a critical role in proper patient selection, thorough transurethral resection, ongoing cystoscopic surveillance and management of local recurrences. There exists multiple patient related and tumor related factors, which contribute to the selection of TMT vs. radical cystectomy for a patient with muscle invasive bladder cancer. Although the ideal patient for TMT has a tumor which can undergo a visibly complete resection, has no associated hydronephrosis, does not invade the prostatic urethra and is not associated with diffuse carcinoma in situ throughout the bladder, select patients who do not meet all these criteria can still be successfully treated with this approach. A multidisciplinary approach including urology, radiation oncology and medical oncology is paramount with clear communication of tumor location, timing of chemoradiation and repeat cystoscopic resection followed by surveillance. Nonmuscle invasive bladder cancer recurrences can occur in up to 26% of patients after completion of TMT, with many being treated by routine and standard therapy for non-muscle invasive bladder cancer. However, in this population after TMT, early salvage cystectomy should be considered in those with adverse features, including T1 disease, tumor greater than 3 cm, CIS, or lymphovascular invasion. Salvage cystectomy can be performed for local recurrences with acceptable oncologic control and no clear evidence of any greater risk of early complications; however, there may be a slightly increased risk for late complications, namely small bowel obstruction, ureteral stricture, and parastomal hernia. An understanding of these surgical considerations is of utmost importance to the treating urologist in selecting and managing a patient through TMT.