Oct 22, 2023 at 6:49 PM Update: 44 minutes ago
Researchers have discovered two new effective ways to treat metastatic bladder cancer. With both methods, the risk of death decreased by more than 20 percent during treatment. The Dutch research institute Antoni van Leeuwenhoek speaks of a breakthrough.
The new approach stems from two international studies, the results of which were presented on Sunday at a European oncology conference in Madrid. The studies were both so-called phase 3 studies, the final research phase before a drug can be marketed and in which a drug is tested on large groups of patients.
Most patients with metastatic bladder cancer initially receive chemotherapy, but the results were limited. In recent years, one of the two studies therefore focused on the question of whether chemotherapy can be combined with immunotherapy, which stimulates the body’s own immune system to fight cancer cells.
According to the Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, which participated in the studies, the risk of death when treated with that combination decreased by 22 percent compared to chemo treatment alone. The tumor also remained better under control.
The other study looked at the combination of immunotherapy with another drug. That study also showed “important and meaningful improvements in overall survival” and in “the time when the tumor is not growing”, according to the Antoni van Leeuwenhoek. According to the research institute specialized in cancer, the risk of death decreased even more in this study.
Treatments still need to be registered and approved
Medical oncologist Michiel van der Heijden of the Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, who was involved in both studies and presented the results of one of them in Madrid, says the results mark a milestone.
“These findings open new possibilities for the treatment of bladder cancer. It is a testament to the collective efforts of researchers and, more importantly, the resilience of the patients who participated in this study.”
608 patients from 29 countries participated in the study into the combination of chemotherapy and immunotherapy. The second study involved 886 patients from an unknown number of countries.
Both treatments must still be registered and approved in the Netherlands in order to be reimbursed by health insurance.
Beeld: Getty Images
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