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New Developments

a female doctor sits and listens to a senior woman sitting down in a consultation room . They are sitting in a hospital clinic waiting room . The doctor is wearing a blue shirt with rolled up sleeves . She is smiling as they chat.
a female doctor sits and listens to a senior woman sitting down in a consultation room . They are sitting in a hospital clinic waiting room . The doctor is wearing a blue shirt with rolled up sleeves . She is smiling as they chat.
 

A great deal of research is underway to develop knowledge in the fight against bladder cancer.

New studies are being established and new treatments are being offered. There are exciting scientific discussions happening across the world and new clinical trials of immunotherapy and targeted therapy drugs.

Immunotherapy

The role of our natural immune system is to fight off foreign, unwanted things in the body that can cause damage, such as infections or cancer. However, cancer is often very good at hiding from the body’s natural defences. 

Immunotherapy is a type of therapy for cancer that teaches the body’s immune system to fight the cancer. Just as we each have traits that make us different to others, cancers also have traits that make them different to normal cells and other types of cancer. 

Immunotherapy differs from chemotherapy because, whilst chemotherapy works to directly kill cancer cells, immunotherapy trains your natural immune defence system to recognise the cancer cells and kill them itself. Some patients have found it difficult to distinguish between the types of treatment so if you are unclear, do keep asking questions. A simple reminder is in the names of the treatments: chemotherapy uses chemicals, while immunotherapy supports the immune system.

Immunotherapy drugs

Immunotherapy drugs include:

  • atezolizumab (pronounced a-teh-zoh-LIZ-yoo-mab) (Tecentriq®)
  • avelumab (pronounced a-VELL-eu-mab) (Bavencio®)
  • cetrelimab (pronounced se-TREL-ee-mab)
  • durvalumab (pronounced dur-VAL-yoo-mab) (Imfinzi®)
  • nivolumab (pronounced nye-VOL-yoo-mab) (Opdivo®)
  • pembrolizumab (pronounced pem-broh-LIH-zoo-mab) (Keytruda®)
  • sasanlimab (pronounced sa-SAN-lee-mab)

Some of these drugs are not yet available on the NHS for bladder cancer but may be available by enrolling in a clinical trial. ​

Targeted therapies

Targeted therapies work differently from the chemotherapy or immunotherapy. They are drugs that block the growth of cancers by acting on specific weaknesses in some cancer cells. 

Unlike immunotherapy treatments, which focus on helping the immune system to destroy the cancer, targeted therapies focus on the cancer itself. Researchers look at the DNA and protein of specific cancers and try to isolate what is unique about them. When that can be defined, researchers can identify the cancer’s ‘Achilles’ heel’ and find ways to destroy it.

Targeted therapy drugs

Targeted therapies for bladder cancer include:

  • entrectinib (pronounced en-TREK-tih-nib) (Rozlytrek®)
  • erdafitinib (pronounced er-da-FI-tih-nib) (Balversa®) 
  • larotrectinib (pronounced LAR-oh-TREK-tih-nib) (Vitrakvi®)
  • rogaratinib (pronounced row-gah-RAT-tih-nib)
  • enfortumab vedotin (pronounced en-FORT-ue-mab ve-DOE-tin) (Padcev®)
  • trastuzumab deruxtecan (pronounced tras-TOOZ-ue-mab der-UX-te-kan) (Enhertu®)

Some of these drugs are not yet available on the NHS for bladder cancer but may be available by enrolling in a clinical trial. 

Early access to medicines scheme

The early access to medicines scheme (EAMS) aims to give patients with life threatening or serious conditions access to medicines that are not yet on the NHS, when there is a clear unmet medical need. You can ask your doctor if there are any treatments available on the early access to medicines scheme that might be suitable for you.

Questions to ask your doctor

If you have non-muscle invasive bladder cancer - ask your doctor:

  • What clinical trials are available for patients like me?
  • Am I suitable to join a clinical trial for immunotherapy?

If you have advanced cancer, metastatic cancer, or muscle-invasive bladder cancer - ask your doctor:

  • Can I receive immunotherapy under the NHS or the early access to medicines scheme?
  • What clinical trials are available for patients like me?
  • Am I suitable to join a clinical trial for immunotherapy or targeted therapy?

You could also print out our list of clinical trials that are currently recruiting bladder cancer patients in the UK and take it to your next appointment.

Get in touch

We’ve done everything we can to make all the information on this site as accurate as possible. Whilst we have had support from a small team of medical professionals advisors to review the general medical content of this site, please remember, that only YOUR medical team can give YOU specific advice about YOUR symptoms or illness. We encourage you to discuss any potential options with them.