Paclitaxel in the treatment of advanced urothelial cancer
Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
Carcinoma, Transitional Cell
Urinary Bladder Neoplasms
Median survival in patients with advanced urothelial carcinoma continues to be approximately 1 year following treatment with traditional cisplatin (Platinol)-based regimens, which have substantial toxicity. Thus, research is focusing on newer chemotherapeutic agents and novel combination regimens to improve outcomes and tolerability. Paclitaxel (Taxol) demonstrated one of the highest single-agent response rates (42%) in patients with advanced urothelial tumors, prompting extensive evaluation of combination regimens, including paclitaxel/platinum-based doublets or triplets. In many trials, carboplatin (Paraplatin) has been substituted for cisplatin to produce a more convenient, less toxic regimen. These trials have demonstrated that paclitaxel/platinum-based combinations are similar in efficacy to traditional cisplatin-based regimens and are generally better tolerated. Consequently, paclitaxel-based combinations (e.g., paclitaxel/carboplatin) are now considered alternative treatment options for patients with advanced disease, particularly those who are ineligible for clinical trials or are unable to tolerate standard cisplatin-based regimens. Paclitaxel/ifosfamide (Ifex)/cisplatin is another promising alternative regimen for patients who can tolerate cisplatin-based regimens. An ongoing phase III trial comparing paclitaxel/carboplatin and MVAC (methotrexate, vinblastine, Adriamycin, and cisplatin) should clarify the role of paclitaxel-based combinations. Paclitaxel-based combinations are also under evaluation in the adjuvant setting, and future trials may assess their potential role as neoadjuvant therapy or in combination with radiation therapy.