One-time chemotherapy treatment drops bladder cancer recurrence significantly

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SAN ANTONIO – A one-time chemotherapy treatment is changing the game for bladder cancer patients and dropping the recurrence rate by almost 50 percent.

Bladder Cancer Fast Facts:

  • Fourth deadliest cancer.

  • Men, Caucasians and smokers have twice the risk of bladder cancer as the general population.

  • Tumors return more often than other cancer.

  • It's the costliest cancer due to tumor recurrence.

The successful new national study:

  • Began 10 years ago; UT Health San Antonio contributed.

  • Results of the study published in May.

  • After bladder tumors are removed, chemotherapy drug Gemcitabine is inserted through a catheter, and kept in the bladder for one hour.

  • Results: A 47 percent reduction in tumor recurrence.

Bladder cancer survivor and study participant Harris Sterling said his tumor hasn't returned in six years.

"It's a really big deal, and I actually have some friends who have had a recurrence of bladder cancer, so I pretty much understand what that is," he said.

UT Health San Antonio's big role

Associate urology professor Dr. Robert Svatek said in the beginning, there weren't enough participants for the study:

"When I came here in 2010, 2011, they almost were going to shut the study down, but here in San Antonio, we turned things around and started accruing a bunch of patients. We ended up being the No. 1 or 2 enroller nationwide, and a lot of people attribute the addition of our site to helping turn the study around in being so successful. So this study not only means a lot for bladder cancer patients, but it means a lot for us here in San Antonio at UT Health because we know that this site, this one place, can make a difference for the whole nation."

What Are the Symptoms of Bladder Cancer?

  • Blood in the urine. This is the most common symptom.

  • Having to urinate often.

  • Pain while urinating.

  • Back pain.

  • Pelvic pain

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