Bladder Cancer (cont.)
Bladder cancer has a relatively high recurrence rate. Researchers are trying to discover ways to prevent recurrence. One strategy that has been widely tested is chemoprevention.
- The idea is to use an agent that is safe and has few, if any, side effects but is active in changing the environment of the bladder so another cancer cannot develop so easily there.
- The agents most widely tested as chemopreventives are vitamins and certain relatively safe drugs.
- No agent has yet been shown to work on a large scale in preventing recurrence of bladder cancer.
Another treatment for bladder cancer that is still under study is called photodynamic therapy. This treatment uses a special type of laser light to destroy tumors.
- For a few days before the treatment, you are given a substance that sensitizes tumor cells to this light. The substance is infused into your bloodstream via a vein. It then travels to the bladder and collects in the tumor.
- The light source is then introduced into bladder through the urethra and light is then aimed at the tumor and can destroy tumor cells.
- The advantage of this treatment is that it kills only tumor cells, not surrounding healthy tissues. The disadvantage is that it works only for tumors that have not invaded deeply into the bladder wall or to other organs. This treatment is not readily available in most centers in the United States and is not widely used.
After you complete your treatment, you will undergo a series of tests to determine how well your treatment worked at getting rid of your cancer.
- If the results show remaining cancer, your urologic oncologist will recommend further treatment.
- If the results show no remaining cancer, he or she will recommend a schedule for follow-up visits. These visits will include tests to see whether the cancer has come back. They will be frequent at first because of the risk of the cancer recurrence after treatment.
- If you still have your native bladder, follow-up will include interval cystoscopy and urine tests.
- If you have undergone radical cystectomy, follow-up will include imaging tests of your chest and abdomen.
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