Nearly 50% of bladder cancer patients either present with metastatic disease or relapse distantly following initial local therapy. Prior to platinum-based chemotherapy, the incidence of bladder cancer central nervous system metastases was approximately 1%; however, their incidence has increased to 3-16% following definitive treatment as platinum-based regimens have changed the natural history of the disease. Bladder cancer brain metastases are generally managed similarly to those from more common malignancies such as non-small cell lung cancer, with surgery +/- adjuvant radiotherapy, or radiotherapy alone using stereotactic radiosurgery or whole brain radiotherapy. Limited data suggest that patients with inoperable urothelial carcinoma brain metastases who are not candidates for stereotactic radiosurgery may benefit from shorter whole brain radiation therapy courses compared to other histologies, but data is hypothesis-generating. Given improvements in the efficacy of systemic therapy and supportive care strategies for metastatic urothelial carcinoma translating in improved survival, the incidence of intracranial failures may increase. Immune checkpoint blockade therapy may benefit cisplatin-ineligible metastatic urothelial carcinoma patients as first-line therapy; however, the effectiveness of immune checkpoint blockade to treat central nervous system disease has not been established. In this review, we discuss the incidence and management of bladder cancer brain metastases and considerations regarding variations in management relative to more commonly encountered non-urothelial histologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-248
Number of pages12
JournalBladder Cancer
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2020


  • Immune checkpoint blockade
  • Neoplasm metastasis
  • Radiotherapy
  • Urinary bladder neoplasms
  • Urothelial carcinoma


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