Friday, January 24, 2014

Recent Findings In Bladder Cancer Research

By Amanda Bean

Bladder cancer research studies have given a great insight into the pathology of the disease. Better understanding of the disease has in turn has made it possible to develop better management protocols. Current there are many research activities still continuing throughout the world. Some of the areas that have generated a lot of interest among the medical fraternity in this area include the aetiology, precipitating factors and epidemiological characteristics.

Many new treatments are now routinely practiced in some places. Some of the most advanced treatments that are available for consideration include gene therapy, immunotherapy, laparoscopic surgery and personalised chemotherapy. Perhaps the most interesting of them is gene therapy. In this type, the cancerous cells are targeted at gene level just as the name suggest. Interfering with the reproductive mechanism halts the uncontrolled proliferation.

According to some recent studies, the prevalence of bladder cancer in the United States stands at about 400, 000 currently. The incidence is a staggering 16,000 cases per year. This makes the disease a major problem. Mortality is mainly due to the extremely aggressive, invasive types. Fortunately these affect a smaller proportion of patients. Early diagnosis is very important if cure is to be attained.

This cancer is also a common problem in pet dogs. The type found in dogs is mainly the high grade type. Dogs are usually noted to have urinary obstruction symptoms as the first sign at which time the disease is usually advanced. The commonest histological type is known as transitional cell carcinoma. Fortunately, there are treatment modalities that can be used when the disease is identified early. Studies conducted in dogs have been the main source of data on the disease.

There has been a certain trend as regards the most significant risk factors. Smoking remains the greatest contributor at about 35% with just a slight difference in the rates for men and women according to a 2010 study done in the UK. By smoking, you increase the risk by as much as 400%. The heavier one smokes, the greater the risk.

Another huge risk factor is occupational exposure. Persons that work in dye and rubber industries have been shown to be at a greater risk compared to the general population. The relationship between dyes has been known from as beck as the nineteenth century but it was not until the 1950s that it was scientifically proven. The components that have been shown to be harmful include benzidine and naphthalene.

Some drugs and medical procedures may also increase the risk especially if used repeatedly. Cyclophosphamide and phenacetin are well known examples. Cyclophosphamide is a useful antitumor agent but may affect the urinary system as an adverse effect. The main medical procedure that may predispose is pelvic irradiation.

Bladder cancer research should be looked at as a continuous process if the management of patients is to be improved. All the patients should ideally have their details recorded in a data base. All the important aspects of disease must be clearly shown. If on treatment, they should be followed up until they recover or until they succumb. This is the only sure of ensuring that the effects of interventions are studied. Future decisions can be made based on these results.

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