Bladder cancer doesn’t get a lot of attention, but more than 60,000 men will be diagnosed with it this year and more than 13,000 of them will die from it, in part because bladder cancer has the highest recurrence rate of all the urological cancers.
The most common bladder cancer treatment is a transurethral resection of bladder tumor (TURBT), wherein bladder tumors are removed through the urethra. But for TURBT to be optimally effective, all of the cancerous cells must be removed. Otherwise, the disease recurs.
If bladder cancer is suspected, doctors have traditionally used a technique called cystoscopy to detect it. This procedure uses a thin tube called a cystoscope, which is inserted into the urethra and pushed into the bladder where it emits light, allowing the physician to visually assess the presence of cancer. But cancerous cells are not easily distinguished from healthy cells, so traditional cystoscopy often misses diseased cells, leading to very high rates of recurrence.
Blue Light Cystoscopy, developed by pharmaceutical company Photocure, is changing the game. An imaging agent called Cysview is introduced into the bladder via catheter, and about an hour later, a cystoscope that emits a specific wavelength of blue light is inserted into the bladder. The blue light makes the Cysview-treated cancer cells light up pink, making it much easier to see — and remove — all the diseased tissue, reducing the chance of recurrence.
Aside from increasing confidence and the likelihood that all of the diseased cells have been removed, Photocure’s Blue Light Cystoscopy offers another big benefit: Cancerous cells can sometimes be removed in the doctor’s office.
By using a flexible scope in a procedure called in-office fulguration, which uses heat to destroy cancer cells, patients can see their cancer removed. This avoids the dangers of surgery and potentially frees up hospital resources, as operating rooms can be reserved for only the most serious cases. If you’re experiencing any of the potential symptoms of bladder cancer, talk with your physician immediately. Advances in cystoscopy have increased the odds of surviving bladder cancer.