Friday, December 20, 2013

Some Important Aspects On Bladder Cancer Research

By Eugenia Dickerson

Bladder cancer research activities have been taking place for several years now. A number of studies have already been completed but others are still on-going. Most of the studies have given very useful insights that have helped in the improvement of existing treatments as well as in the creation of newer modalities. The studies have been centred on various disease aspects that have included, among others, the causes, the precipitating factors, prevalence and incidence.

Research has revealed that a number of factors act as risk factors of developing the cancer. Smoking has stood as the biggest risk factor contributing to about 38% of the cases in men and about 34% in women. These results are from a study published in the United Kingdom in 2010. Smoking increases the risk of getting the cancer about four times. The started also found out that the risk is highest in persons that have been smoking for many years and the heavy smokers.

Occupational exposure as a risk factor has the subject of numerous studies. From as early as 1895, the causal effect relationship between bladder cancer aromatic amines found in dyes has been known. The first cases were reported in some European countries but the same has now been demonstrated all over the world. Occupational studies conducted in the 1950s demonstrated that benzidine and naphthylamine carry a particularly high risk.

Besides the aromatic amines, there are a number of other medicines, medical procedures and conditions that have been shown to increase the risk. Phenacetin and cyclophosphamide are some of the well known carcinogens. The medical procedure that causes the highest risk is irradiation of the pelvic organs which is often required in treatment of testicular cancer and cervical cancer. In some studies, the risk has been shown to be increased up to 6 times.

Positron emission tomography is a new investigative procedure that has been adopted for varied conditions including bladder cancer. In this procedure some form of radioactive dye is injected into the blood and subsequently absorbed by almost all the organs in the body. Cells that are cancerous in nature tend to absorb more dye than normal cells. A special type of scanner is then used to locate these abnormal cells.

Both the incidence and prevalence is fairly high. Statistics vary between countries and over time. In the UK it represents about 5% of all cancer cases in males and 2% in females. It is the seventh commonest in males and eleventh commonest in females. In 2010 just over 10, 000 new cases were reported of which three quarters affected males. The statistics are not very different from what is seen in the rest of the European continent.

Statistics on mortality are not encouraging. In the United Kingdom about 3000 male patients succumb every year while about 1500 women suffer the same fate. The mortality rate is highest among the advanced age groups. The encouraging thing is that the figure has gone done greatly over the last several decades.

Bladder cancer research has been a very important step towards finding a solution to this problem. It has led to the development of newer treatment techniques and better preventive measures. The important thing is to ensure that unpublished studies are identified and published. Those that are not completed for one reason or another should be brought to completion.

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