Immunotherapy in bladder cancer-quo vadis? Update on current trials and developments

Bladder Cancer

Todenhöfer T and Boegemann M. Urologe A 2020 - Review.


BACKGROUND: Great advances have been made for the treatment of urothelial carcinoma by the introduction of checkpoint inhibitors (CPI). Single-agent immunotherapy with CPIs has been approved for patients with metastatic or locally advanced inoperable urothelial carcinoma who have either progressed during or after platinum-based chemotherapy or who are cisplatin-ineligible. For cisplatin-ineligible patients, approval is restricted to patients with high programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression. For patients with nonmuscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC) or patients with muscle invasive bladder cancer (MIBC) who receive curative therapy, no CPIs have received approval in Germany.

OBJECTIVES: To provide an overview of the current landscape of immunotherapy in patients with urothelial carcinoma.

METHODS: Summary of the therapeutic landscape and resulting challenges based on currently published data using a PubMed search.

RESULTS: In the treatment of metastatic or inoperable urothelial carcinoma, CPIs represent standard treatment. Depending on the results of currently performed trials, an extension of its use to the perioperative setting (neoadjuvant/adjuvant) and to patients with Bacillus Calmette Guérin (BCG) unresponsive NMIBC in the near future is currently being discussed.

CONCLUSIONS: Immuno-oncologic treatment using CPIs has become an integral part of the management of patients with advanced bladder cancer. For biomarker-based patient selection and combination therapies, there is an urgent need for further investigations within clinical trial protocols.