Saint Francis Healthcare System is at the forefront of treating advanced bladder cancer. The Medical Center’s Cancer Institute has been involved in treatments that offer new hope for people who have bladder cancer that has spread to other parts of their body.
Most types of bladder cancer are highly treatable, noninvasive diseases. However, 25 percent of cases are classified as high-grade, muscle-invasive cancers, which means they are very likely to spread. For those cases, the most common treatment is a cystectomy, the removal of the bladder, and surgery to create a new way to expel urine.
“The oncologists and urologists at Saint Francis have been working together to provide neoadjuvant chemotherapy, which means the chemotherapy is given prior to the removal of the bladder,” says James E. Outman III, DO, FACS, urologist who practices at Saint Francis Healthcare System. “Studies are showing that the patients who qualify for these trials will have better outcomes, longer survival and a lower incidence of recurrence than when we treat them with chemotherapy after surgery.”
The reason chemotherapy before surgery can be more successful is because when bladder cancer spreads, it typically spreads well beyond the immediate area to the lymph nodes and lungs, for example. The surgeon does not see where the cancer has spread at the time of the surgery, so the additional cancer areas do not receive treatment until chemotherapy begins.
When chemotherapy is administered before surgery, patient outcomes are improved because they are in better health than they will be after major surgery. “This allows them to have a quicker recovery from their surgery,” says Outman.
While such innovative therapies as neoadjuvant chemotherapy usually are reserved for large academic medical centers, Saint Francis has been able to participate in the trials because its Cancer Institute treats so many people with bladder cancer. “The urologists and oncologists here can offer the most cutting-edge treatments in the country,” says Outman. “Our program is well-known for its advanced approaches to cancer treatment.”
To learn more about treatment for bladder cancer at Saint Francis, talk to your primary care physician or visit the Saint Francis Cancer Institute webpage.