Around 1 in 5 people diagnosed with cancer in the UK take part in a clinical trial.
A trial comparing outcomes for people who had already had surgery or radiotherapy for bladder cancer
We know that this is an especially worrying time for people with cancer and their family and friends. We have separate information about coronavirus and cancer. Please read that information alongside this page. We will update that information as guidance changes.
Doctors often treat bladder cancer with either surgery or radiotherapy. It can be difficult to decide which treatment to choose as there are pros and cons for each one.
The research team who ran this trial wanted to try and find out if one treatment was better than the other. They looked at medical notes of people who had had surgery or radiotherapy in Leeds several years before. This type of trial is called a ‘retrospective trial’.
The aim of this trial was to find out which treatment was best for people with bladder cancer.
Summary of results
The research team found that there was no significant difference in how long people lived after surgery or radiotherapy for bladder cancer.
They looked at the medical notes of
- 97 people who’d had radiotherapy
- 72 people who’d had surgery
Most of the people taking part had stage T2 or T3 bladder cancer. Of those who’d had surgery, 70 had their whole bladder removed (a radical cystectomy) and 2 had part of their bladder removed (a partial cystectomy).
The research team found that of those who had surgery
- More than 6 out of 10 (65%) lived for at least a year
- Just over 4 out of 10 (41%) lived for at least 5 years
- More than 3 out of 10 (36%) lived for at least 8 years
And of those who had radiotherapy
- Almost 8 out of 10 (78%) lived for at least a year
- More than 3 out of 10 (35%) lived for at least 5 years
- Nearly 2 out of 10 (18%) lived for at least 8 years
So although more people who had radiotherapy lived for at least a year, this changed over time and more people who had surgery lived for at least 5 years. When they looked at the overall figures at 5 years, there was no difference in statistical terms.
The difference in the 8 year figures could be because the people who had radiotherapy were older than the people who had surgery. This is probably because their doctors decided they were not well enough to have surgery. When the research team looked in more detail at who had died because of their bladder cancer, the results were very similar in each group (about half).
The research team also looked at how many people’s cancer had come back. Again, this was roughly the same in both groups, about 1 in 3 people. The difference between the groups was not significant in statistical terms.
These results showed that there was no difference in whether the cancer came back or not, or in how long people lived for. The research team concluded that radiotherapy could be safely used as an alternative to surgery.
We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (
How to join a clinical trial
Dr Anne Kiltie
Cancer Research UK