Oct. 25, 2005 -- A new test for bladder
cancer is in the works, Italian researchers report in The Journal of
the American Medical Association.
The test screens urine for an enzyme called telomerase. High telomerase
levels may indicate cancer, including bladder cancer, write the
But the test isn't ready. Bigger studies are needed first, write the
researchers. They included Daniele Calistri, PhD, of Morgagni-Pierantoni
Hospital in Forli, Italy.
If successful, the test would probably target high-risk patients, not the
general public, write Calistri and colleagues.
Bladder Cancer Increasing
Bladder cancer has been on the rise for the last few decades, note the
Consider these statistics from the American Cancer Society:
Bladder cancer will be diagnosed more than 63,000 times in the U.S. in
Bladder cancer is men's fourth most common cancer and women's ninth most
Some more facts from Calistri's study:
Bladder cancer is three times more common in men than in women.
About eight in 10 patients are at least 60 years old.
Smokers are roughly three times as likely to get bladder cancer as
Early Detection Can Save Lives
Early detection can improve the chances of surviving bladder cancer. That's
all the more reason to come up with a better test, suggests Calistri's
Currently, a cystoscopy is performed to see
the inside of the bladder and remove a small sample of tissue (biopsy) from the
area. It involves inserting a tiny tube with a scope through the urinary system
to the bladder. The biopsy specimen would be evaluated in a lab for cancer
Cystoscopy is the "gold standard" diagnostic tool. However it is an invasive
test that can carry risks of infection, bleeding, and rupture of the
It's important to find a "manageable and more accurate diagnostic tool," the
Simple, Low-Cost Test
The researchers used the new test on urine samples from 84 healthy men and
134 men with confirmed bladder cancer.
The big question: Would the test correctly show who had bladder cancer and
The test wasn't right all the time. Still, it was highly accurate and
sensitive, even in finding low-grade tumors, the study shows.
The urine test was inexpensive,
easy to use, good at detecting early bladder cancer, noninvasive, and
objective, note the researchers. Larger studies are needed before the test can
be widely used, they caution.
SOURCES: Sanchini, M. The Journal of the American Medical
Association, Oct. 26, 2005; vol 294: pp 2052-2056. American Cancer
Society: "What Are the Key Statistics for Bladder Cancer?" News release,
JAMA/Archives. WebMD Medical Reference provided in collaboration with The
Cleveland Clinic: "Prostate Cancer: Cystoscopy or Bladder Scope Test."