University of Rochester

Currents--University of Rochester newspaper

New test detects bladder cancer fast

A study conducted in part at the University reveals that a new test to detect bladder cancer is more effective than the standard detection method and may reduce the need for more invasive procedures. Results were included in the February 15 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Bladder cancer is the fifth most common malignancy in the United States, with 63,000 new cases each year. Early detection is critical, as the five-year survival rate is 95 percent. There are several methods to detect bladder cancer, but none are 100 percent effective, and doctors currently use a combination of them for accuracy.

In the study, researchers discovered that the test, which can be completed in less than an hour in an office setting, was almost three times as effective as cytology, the standard laboratory-based urine test, in diagnosing bladder cancer.

When used with cystoscopy, the test detected 94 percent of the bladder cancers, compared to 89 percent seen by cystoscopy alone. In addition, the test identified four invasive, life-threatening cancers missed during cystoscopic examination. The study focused on 1,331 patients from 23 sites in 10 states, including 15 from Rochester.

"This advances our ability to diagnose bladder cancers more easily and less expensively," says study coauthor Edward Messing, chair of the Department of Urology and deputy director of the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center.

The JAMA study, which Messing helped design with colleagues at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, focused on people who are at high risk for bladder cancer, such as those who smoked or had hematuria.

Messing is researching additional ways to improve the detection of recurrent bladder cancers, including the use of fluorescent dyes and blue light during cystoscopy, and another test using DNA markers to detect recurrent tumors.

Messing and other University scientists also are studying the genetic background of bladder cancers in mice and testing whether interference with the expression of specific genes can prevent or treat bladder cancer. Results could offer insight into the development of targeted therapies.

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