There are approximately 80,000 new cases of bladder cancer every year and many of these cases (~80%) can be cured. The standard treatment is chemotherapy, followed by surgical removal of the bladder. Consequently, even for those patients that survive, life will never be the same. From that day forward, urine produced by the body must be excreted into a pouch, which significantly impacts quality of life. The problem is that in many cases, even though the bladder of the patient is purged of cancer cells by chemotherapy, the bladder is removed anyway because of fear the cancer will return. Being able to determine if the bladder is cancer free and thus may remain in place is a major unmet need.
As a surgeon at Fox Chase Cancer Center, I care for bladder cancer patients and have made it my mission to devise a way to determine if a patient is able to be spared removal of the bladder or, alternatively, really benefits from that surgery. I am devoted to achieving this goal because I am responsible for removing the patients’ bladders and know firsthand the effects of these surgeries on real patients. I have devised an approach to distinguish between patients whose bladder must be removed from those who can be spared this procedure and that approach is to sequence the DNA found in the patients’ urine after the patient has been treated with chemotherapy. This method determines whether the DNA in the urine contains sequences derived from the cancer cells indicating that the cancer is still present – or alternatively, if no cancer DNA remains. The absence of cancer DNA in this assay could suggests that bladder removal is not required. My research in this area has the potential to be life changing for so many patients. Please join the Bucks County Chapter of the Board of Associates in supporting this life-changing research.
Philip H. Abbosh MD-PhD