Battling Bladder Cancer's Return

Procedure may help detect patients most likely to have recurrence

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TUESDAY, March 2, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- A procedure sometimes used to monitor male bladder cancer patients after they've had radical surgery may help doctors pinpoint which ones are most likely to suffer a recurrence, says a University of Florida study.

The procedure is called urethral wash cytopathology. Patients who are monitored with this procedure after they've had bladder and prostate removal often have a second operation to remove the urethra if urethral wash cytopathology indicates there are still some remaining cancer cells. It's believed this reduces the risk of cancer recurrence.

But this study found no difference in long-term outcomes for patients who had their urethra -- the tube through which urine flows out of the body -- removed after remaining cancer cells were detected using urethral wash cytopathology and patients who did not have the procedure but had their urethras removed.

"What the study says . . . is that the risk for the patient has been determined pretty much by the time the (bladder and prostate removal) is done," study author Dr. William Murphy, a professor of pathology, says in a prepared statement.

He says a positive result from a urethral wash may be viewed as a warning sign that cancer may develop elsewhere in the body, rather than as an indicator that the patient's urethra should be removed.

The study appeared in a recent issue of Cancer/Cancer Cytopathology.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about bladder cancer.

SOURCE: University of Florida, news release, February 2004

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