The Future of Immunotherapy for Bladder Cancer

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An expert discusses the future of immunotherapy in light of new frontline treatments like Keytruda that have been demonstrating positive results for patients with non–muscle invasive bladder cancer.

New frontline treatments like Keytruda (pembrolizumab), immune synergizing agents and PD-1 antibodies are demonstrating positive results for patients with non—muscle invasive bladder cancer when they fail to respond to Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) immunotherapy, according to Arjun V. Balar, M.D. However, immunotherapy is most likely to be augmented, rather than replaced, by such treatments.

At the 2019 Genitourinary Cancers Symposium, Balar — who is director of the genitourinary medical oncology program at NYU Langone’s Perlmutter Cancer Center – discussed advances in bladder cancer treatment and what they mean for the future of BCG – the main intravesical immunotherapy for early stage bladder cancer.

“BCG has a long-standing history in the treatment of non—muscle invasive bladder cancer. I believe that it will actually have a firm role for decades to come largely because it is still very active.”