Molecular Subtypes as a Basis for Stratified Use of Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy for Muscle-Invasive Bladder Cancer—A Narrative Review

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There are no established biomarkers to guide patient selection for neoadjuvant chemotherapy prior to radical cystectomy for muscle-invasive bladder cancer. Recent studies suggest that molecular subtype classification holds promise for predicting chemotherapy response and/or survival benefit in this setting. Here, we summarize and discuss the scientific literature examining transcriptomic or panel-based molecular subtyping applied to neoadjuvant chemotherapy-treated patient cohorts. We find that there is not sufficient evidence to conclude that the basal subtype of muscle-invasive bladder cancer responds well to chemotherapy, since only a minority of studies support this conclusion. More evidence indicates that luminal-like subtypes may have the most improved outcomes after neoadjuvant chemotherapy. There are also conflicting data concerning the association between biopsy stromal content and response. Subtypes indicative of high stromal infiltration responded well in some studies and poorly in others. Uncertainties when interpreting the current literature include a lack of reporting both response and survival outcomes and the inherent risk of bias in retrospective study designs. Taken together, available studies suggest a role for molecular subtyping in stratifying patients for receiving neoadjuvant chemotherapy. The precise classification system that best captures such a predictive effect, and the exact subtypes for which other treatment options are more beneficial remains to be established, preferably in prospective studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1692
Pages (from-to)1-17
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Cancer and Oncology
  • Urology and Nephrology


  • basal
  • biomarker
  • bladder cancer
  • chemotherapy
  • cisplatin
  • luminal
  • molecular subtypes
  • neoadjuvant
  • response
  • urothelial carcinoma


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