Do You Know Enough About Bladder Cancer to Identify Its Risk Factors and Symptoms? Dr. Olga Falkowski of Acupath Laboratories on Innovations in Bladder Cancer Testing
July is Bladder Cancer Awareness Month. Patients with less than three months from symptom onset to diagnosis have significantly better chances for survival than those for whom the interval was more than nine months.
Plainview, NY (PRWEB) July 02, 2013
July is bladder cancer awareness month, a time that the medical research community has dedicated to increasing public knowledge about bladder cancer risk factors and symptoms. Though scientists do not currently know the precise causes of bladder cancer, it is clear that earlier diagnosis saves lives. Some people avoid being tested for bladder cancer because they are afraid. Men tend to be particularly reluctant to undergo these tests, though it is especially critical for them to be checked because men are more likely to get bladder cancer than women. "Patients with less than three months from symptom onset to diagnosis have significantly better chances for survival than those for whom the interval was more than nine months," says Dr. Olga Falkowski, Medical Director and Director of Molecular Genetics at Acupath Laboratories, Inc.
The American Cancer Society predicts that there will be more than 72,000 new cases of bladder cancer in the United States this year and that nearly 15,000 deaths will result from this disease.
Innovations in bladder cancer testing
The physician will perform a physical examination, including a pelvic and rectal exam. The doctor will likely use a combination of diagnostic exams, ranging from imaging scans to cystoscopy. During this outpatient procedure, a tube holding a tiny camera is inserted into the bladder through the urethra so that doctors can assess the bladder.
Many tests are not sensitive enough to detect the earliest stage of bladder cancer, so some patients are not diagnosed until their cancer has progressed past Stage 1. Acupath Laboratories uses a molecular test called UroVysion™ (Abbott Molecular, Des Plaines, IL) that can detect chromosomal abnormalities in voided urine cells from the bladder, an important sign of bladder cancer, up to six months sooner than other methods and with up to 95% accuracy.
UroVysion™ is used alongside other diagnostic tests to better detect malignant tumors, monitor a patient’s response to treatment, and to identify recurrence of cancerous cells in patients who are in remission. Researchers are currently trying to determine if urine tests that identify these DNA changes can help predict the prognosis of bladder cancer patients, which could affect their treatment. Researchers are also studying whether these tests might be helpful to screen for bladder cancer in people who do not show symptoms. One new urine test looks for a substance called telomerase, an enzyme that frequently can be found in cancer cells.
UroVysion™ uses a process called Fluorescence in situ Hybridization (FISH), in which dye-tagged DNA probes are applied to cells. Scientists are then able to assess the cells for chromosomal abnormalities. A recent study showed that 96.3% of the FISH slides could be reported directly from the automated scan and required no manual view of the slide. Acupath Laboratories developed a “flagging” system to identify cases that would likely benefit from a manual review of the slides. Automated FISH analysis can make laboratories more efficient and reduce inter-observer and intra-observer variability, which makes the results more reliable and accurate.
Common symptoms of bladder cancer
According to Dr. Falkowski, “blood in the urine, painful urination, frequent urination and incontinence, or feeling the need to urinate and not being able to void, are all key indicators of bladder cancer.” According to the National Institute of Health, bone pain and bone tenderness, weight loss, pain in the lower back and pain in the abdominal can also be symptomatic of bladder cancer.
Risk factors of bladder cancer
Smoking: Smokers are three times more likely to develop bladder cancer than non-smokers.
Gender: Men are three times more likely to develop the disease than women. Bladder cancer is the fourth most common cancer diagnosed in men.
Age: This disease is much more common in older people. People under 40 rarely develop bladder cancer. Nine out of 10 people who suffer from this disease are older than 55.
Race: Caucasians are diagnosed with bladder cancer almost twice as frequently as African-Americans; Latinos are diagnosed even less frequently than African-Americans.
Occupation: People who are regularly exposed to chemicals, pollution or dangerous materials are more likely to develop bladder cancer.
Medical History: “Anyone with a family history of the disease and those treated with radiation for previous cancers are at risk,” says Dr. Falkowski. “Recurrence is also common among those who’ve had bladder cancer.”
Bio: Olga Falkowski, M.D. is board-certified in anatomic and clinical pathology by the American Board of Pathology, and serves as the Medical Director and Director of Molecular Genetics at Acupath Laboratories, Inc. She is responsible for the supervision and sign out of histological, cytopathological, FISH (fluorescence in situ hybridization) and molecular cases. Dr. Falkowski completed her residency in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center, University Hospital of Columbia University, and a residency in General Pathology at the First Moscow Medical School in Russia. Subsequently, she fulfilled a Surgical fellowship at Tisch Hospital at NYU Langone Medical Center followed by an observership at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Genitourinary Pathology and an observership at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Falkowski received her medical degree from the First Moscow Medical School in Russia. She is a member of the College of American Pathologists and the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology.
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