Purpose: Patients with bladder cancer with clinical lymph node involvement (cN+) are at high risk for distant metastases, but are potentially curable. Such patients are excluded from neoadjuvant chemotherapy trials and pooled with patients with distant metastases in first-line chemotherapy trials not suited to define the role of combined-modality therapy. To address this evidence void, we performed a comparative effectiveness analysis. Methods: Weincluded cTanyN1-3M0 bladder cancer patients from the National Cancer Data Base (2003-2012) treated with chemotherapy and/or cystectomy. We used multistate survival analysis, allowing for delayed entry, to assess overall survival (OS) according to various treatment strategies. Effectiveness was estimated with multivariable adjustment for tumor-, patient-, and facility-level characteristics. Results: Among 1,739 patients (cN1, 48%; cN2, 45%; cN3, 7%), 1,104 underwent cystectomy and 635 were treated with chemotherapy alone. Of the cystectomy patients, 363 received preoperative and 328 received adjuvant chemotherapy. The crude 5-year OS for chemotherapy alone, cystectomy alone, preoperative chemotherapy followed by cystectomy, and cystectomy followed by adjuvant chemotherapy was 14% (95% CI, 11% to 17%), 19% (95% CI, 15% to 24%), 31% (95% CI, 25% to 38%), and 26% (95% CI, 21% to 34%), respectively. Compared with cystectomy alone, preoperative chemotherapy was associated with a significant improvement in OS (hazard ratio, 0.80; 95% CI, 0.66 to 0.97). Adjuvant chemotherapy was also associated with a significant improvement in survival compared with cystectomy alone. The survival of patients treated with chemotherapy alone was worse than those treated with cystectomy alone. Conclusion: A subset of patients with cN+ bladder cancer achieves long-term survival. Combined-modality therapy, with chemotherapy and cystectomy, is associated with the best outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2627-2635
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number22
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2016


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