University of Rochester Medical Center Urologists Compare Tests for Early Bladder Cancer Detection

April 07, 2009

Men over the age of 60 who have smoked at least 20 years are needed for an international clinical study to improve bladder cancer screening techniques at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Smokers are at increased risk of developing bladder cancer because toxins in cigarettes pass into the urine and damage the lining of the bladder. Those changes can lead to cancer. 

Hematuria, blood in urine, is a first sign that a tumor may be growing in the bladder. The study will compare the results of an at-home urine testing kit with three other tests commonly used to detect cancer cells in urine.

There is no approved screening method for bladder cancer, the fourth most common cancer for men.

“If we can detect bladder cancer at the early stages, we have a greater chance of successfully treating it and extending patient lives,” said Edward Messing, M.D., lead investigator on the study, chair of Urology at the Medical Center, and a leader of the genitourinary oncology team at the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center.

Doctors are recruiting 2,000 men, including about 350 in Rochester, for the study. Participants will complete daily urine tests during two 10-day periods.

If the men test positive for hematuria, doctors may recommend a cystoscopy (examination of the bladder with a long, thin instrument called a cystoscope) or additional testing as needed.

“If there’s blood in the urine and negative bladder cancer markers, our hope is that we’ll be able to reduce the number of cystoscopies needed,” Messing said.

The study is also being conducted at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and Laval University in Quebec, Canada. The study is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.

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