Shedding Light on Bladder Cancer

More than 70,000 people in the US were diagnosed with cancer of the bladder in 2009, with an estimated 14,000 people dying from the disease, according to the National Cancer Institute. Bladder cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer in men and the eighth most common in women.

As with any cancer, the key to fighting it is detecting tumors as soon as possible. The standard procedure to search for tumors in the bladder is a cystoscopy, where physicians insert a camera through the patient’s urethra to look around inside the bladder. The problem is that it’s hard to catch everything, and secondary cystoscopies performed six weeks later pick up more tumors 30-40% of the time. That’s why physicians here are using a new tool that makes cancer cells glow and give up their hiding places.

Cysview is a newly approved optical imaging agent that makes it possible to detect the extent of tumor growth more effectively during bladder cancer surgery and, in turn, remove cancerous tissue right away instead of having to perform a follow-up surgery. That, in turn, decreases the number of people whose cancer reappears.

Cysview uses a fluorescent dye (hexaminolevulinate HCl) that is injected into the bladder through a catheter one hour before surgery. The dye accumulates in malignant cells. When illuminated with blue light from the cystoscope, the cancerous lesions emit red fluorescence, highlighting the malignant areas.

The pivotal clinical trial demonstrated that Cysview cystoscopy significantly improves detection of bladder cancer, leading to a more complete resection. This improves disease-free survival and time to recurrence when compared to white light cystoscopy.

Watch Gary Steinberg, MD, director of the University of Chicago Medicine urologic oncology program, talk about using Cysview on WGN Chicago.

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