Radiotherapy with radical cystectomy for bladder cancer: A systematic review and meta-analysis


  • Kristen McAlpine
  • Dean A. Fergusson
  • Rodney H. Breau
  • Luke F. Reynolds
  • Risa Shorr
  • Scott C. Morgan
  • Libni Eapen
  • Ilias Cagiannos
  • Chris Morash
  • Luke T. Lavallée



Introduction: Muscle-invasive bladder cancer (MIBC) is associated with high recurrence and mortality rates. The role of radiotherapy as an adjunct to radical cystectomy is not well-defined. We sought to evaluate the efficacy and safety of radiotherapy preoperatively or postoperatively for patients with MIBC receiving cystectomy compared to cystectomy alone. The primary outcome was overall survival. The secondary outcome was adverse effects.

Methods: MEDLINE, EMBASE, and CENTRAL were searched on August 30, 2016 for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of patients undergoing cystectomy for bladder cancer. A control group receiving cystectomy alone and an intervention group with radiotherapy and cystectomy were required. The Jadad score was used to assess for bias. Fifteen studies representing 10 RCTs met eligibility criteria.

Results: A total of 996 patients were randomized in seven trials included in a meta-analysis of neoadjuvant radiotherapy. Insufficient data were available to complete a pooled analysis for adjuvant radiotherapy. There was a non-statistically significant improvement in overall survival for patients who received neoadjuvant radiotherapy and cystectomy. At three years and five years, the odds ratios were 1.23 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.72–2.09) and 1.26 (95% CI 0.76–2.09), respectively, in favour of neoadjuvant radiotherapy. Subgroup analyses including higher doses of radiotherapy showed greater effect on survival.

Conclusions: These data suggest that radiotherapy prior to cystectomy may improve overall survival. This review was limited by old studies, heterogeneous patient populations, and radiotherapy treatment techniques that may not meet current standards. There is a need for current RCTs to further evaluate this effect.


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How to Cite

McAlpine, K., Fergusson, D. A., Breau, R. H., Reynolds, L. F., Shorr, R., Morgan, S. C., Eapen, L., Cagiannos, I., Morash, C., & Lavallée, L. T. (2018). Radiotherapy with radical cystectomy for bladder cancer: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Canadian Urological Association Journal, 12(10).