For some bladder cancer patients, simple test could reduce over-treatment, ease high cost
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WASHINGTON — Bladder cancer is relatively common and imposes the highest per patient cost on the U.S. health care system than the management of any other cancer type. Now, a new test could be key to reducing the cost of care while at the same time, relieving some patients of unneeded over-treatment, say investigators led by Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers.

Deciding whether to treat bladder cancer aggressively has been difficult — predictive diagnostic data is limited. Up to 70 percent of patients treated for early stage lesions that have not invaded the bladder wall will experience recurrence of these lesions, and 20 percent of these patients will develop an invasive cancer.

Because clinicians do not know which tumors will become dangerous, they err on the side of caution and perform an extremely intensive post-surgery surveillance regimen, including cystoscopy (a lighted optical scope that examines the inside of the bladder) as frequently as every three months for two years after removal of the tumor, and every 6-12 months for the years after.

The Georgetown-led investigators offer a new solution to the dilemma. They have found that a fairly simple test significantly improves the identification of bladder tumors that will likely become invasive.

The

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