Combining chemotherapy drugs with radiotherapy has been shown to reduce the chance of bladder cancer returning by a third.
The study by scientists at Birmingham University said the results came in a major trial which tested the use of two commonly used chemotherapy drugs – 5FU and Mitomycin C – alongside traditional radiotherapy.
The results from 360 patients found that patients receiving chemotherapy in addition to radiotherapy – known as chemoradiotherapy – had a tumour relapse rate of 33%. This compared favourably with a relapse rate of 46% in patients receiving just radiotherapy.
The seven-year trial, funded by Cancer Research UK, is the largest bladder cancer study of its kind in the world.
Professor Nick James, from the University of Birmingham, led the trial alongside Dr Robert Huddart from the Institute of Cancer Research.
Professor James said: “Importantly, both chemotherapies used in this trial are cheap widely available drugs that are commonly used in cancer treatment already. This makes their use much more practical.”
Scientists believe 5FU and Mitomycin C make cancer cells more sensitive to the radiotherapy treatment, boosting its effectiveness.
The results of the study will be presented at the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) annual conference.
Copyright Press Association 2010