Commentary

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Dr Meeks on Harnessing Innovation in Bladder Cancer

Joshua J. Meeks, MD, PhD, discusses effectively implementing recent therapeutic advances across the disease continuum of bladder cancer.

Joshua J. Meeks, MD, PhD, the Edward M. Schaeffer, MD, PhD, Professor of Urology and an

associate professor of Urology and Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, discusses key takeaways from a session that he participated in during the 2024 American Urological Association Annual Meeting regarding effectively implementing recent therapeutic advances across the disease continuum of bladder cancer.

Meeks begins by noting that innovation had made it an especially exciting time in the bladder cancer treatment landscape, especially in terms of the treatment of patients with non­–muscle-invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC) due to the rapidly increasing number of therapeutic options. Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) worked well for patients for a time, but due to the shortage of the agent that occurred in 2020 investigators were forced to develop new technologies and therapeutics for the treatment of patients with NMIBC, Meeks explains.

During the plenary session of the meeting, investigators presented findings from multiple phase 2 studies examining therapies in NMIBC that produced overall response rates (ORRs) ranging from approximately 60% to 80%, which represented a significant improvement over previously available treatments that conferred ORRs of approximately 15% to 30%, Meeks says. In the past, if an agent produced an ORR of approximately 30% it was likely to be reviewed by the FDA and now with response rates exceeding twice that figure, it’s an exciting time for patients and clinicians alike, Meeks notes.

Now that treatment options have expanded from 1 to more than 5, clinicians have the opportunity to work with patients and other members of the care team to determine what the best option is for a patient and offer personalized care, Meeks says. Factors that should be weighed when selecting the best treatment option include economics and travel burden, and there are additional therapeutics on the horizon that could expand choices for patients even further, Meeks concludes.

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