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According to an article recently published in the Lancet Oncology, “markers” may help to predict the risk of cancer recurrences among patients with bladder cancer who are treated with a radical cystectomy.

The bladder is a hollow organ in the lower abdomen. Its primary function is to store urine, the waste that is produced when the kidneys filter the blood. The bladder has a muscular wall that allows it to get larger and smaller as urine is stored or emptied.

Bladder cancer is diagnosed in 55,000–60,000 individuals annually in the U.S.

Patients whose cancer has spread to deeper tissues in the bladder and/or nearby lymph nodes may be treated with a radical cystectomy, which is the surgical removal of the bladder and nearby lymph nodes. Although this approach may be curative for some of these patients, recurrences occur in a significant portion of patients. Researchers continue to evaluate which patients may be more susceptible to a recurrence so that they may be monitored closely or initially treated more aggressively to potentially reduce the risk of a recurrence.

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Researchers from Texas and Canada recently conducted a clinical study to evaluate “markers” found in tissue samples among patients diagnosed with bladder cancer. This study included patients who had undergone a radical cystectomy for their cancer. Markers that were tested from bladder tissue samples through laboratory analysis included the expression of Bcl-2, caspase-3, P53, and survivin.

  • Altered expression of Bcl-2, caspase-3, P53, and survivin were associated with over four times the risk of a cancer recurrence.
  • Altered expression of all these biomarkers was associated with nearly seven times the risk of death from cancer.

The researchers concluded that alteration in expression of Bcl-2, caspase-3, P53, and survivin were associated with a significantly increased risk of a cancer recurrence and death from cancer among patients with bladder cancer who undergo a radical cystectomy. These findings support other studies indicating that specific markers can help predict outcomes among patients with various types of cancers; such findings may ultimately allow for individualized treatment options for patients with this disease.

Reference: Karam J, Lotan Y, Karakiewicz P, et al. Use of combined apoptosis biomarkers for prediction of bladder cancer recurrence and mortality after radical cystectomy. Lancet Oncology. 2007; 8:128-136.