Bladder cancer awareness month: What do you know about this common disease?

According to the GLOBOCAN project, bladder cancer is the 11th most common cancer worldwide, and has a greater impact on men, with four times more men diagnosed than women. It places a high burden on healthcare systems because of the need for frequent, long-term surveillance and care for patients; in a 2016 paper by Leal and colleagues, bladder cancer was reported to account for 5% of all EU healthcare costs.

The standard treatment for bladder cancer is surgical removal of the tumour, followed by chemotherapy or an immunotherapy called BCG. However, options are limited in patients where these treatments fail, and removal of the bladder (cystectomy) is often needed, which has a severe impact on quality of life. Fortunately, there are several new and exciting treatments being developed, particularly for cases that are not responsive to BCG immunotherapy.

These new treatments may offer an alternative to cystectomy and range from photodynamic therapy, where photosensitive agents injected to the site of the cancer are activated by wavelengths of light and kill the cancer cells, to gene therapies that introduce genes that help the body attack the cancer. The introduction of these novel treatments may help improve the quality of life in patients with the disease.

By far the most common cause of bladder cancer is smoking, accounting for around 50% of cases. Certain industrial chemicals used in the textiles industry, many now banned, are known to increase the risk of bladder cancer, and occupations that have a regular exposure to diesel or petrol fumes, such as taxi or bus drivers, are also linked to increased risk of the disease.

So, what are the main symptoms to look out for? The most common symptom is blood in the urine (haematuria) that can make your urine bright red or brown coloured and is usually not painful. Sometimes the blood is in small amounts and is only detectable by microscopic examination of the urine. Other symptoms are painful, frequent urination and pain in the pelvis and back. These symptoms can occur from medical issues other than cancer, so it’s important to see a doctor if you have any of these symptoms.

At Bioscript, we are proud to be working closely with our pharmaceutical clients, providing support that will help bring new treatments for bladder cancer to market. If you would like to discuss our experience in bladder cancer, please get in touch!


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