New Research Offers Hope for Bladder Cancer Prevention

Thursday, April 18, 2013 - 11:35am
Professor of Oncology, Department of Cancer Prevention & Control

Thanks to a National Cancer Institute (NCI) grant, I am leading a team of researchers at Roswell Park to study gender disparities in bladder cancer that will hopefully lead to bladder cancer prevention.

For several decades, it’s been known that bladder cancer is about four times more likely to occur in men than in women, but the reason why this happens is still a mystery. Some studies suggest that this phenomenon is related to the male hormone androgen. It appears that the androgen and the androgen receptor system somehow make the male bladder more sensitive to carcinogens. It’s also possible that the androgen and androgen receptor system affects the liver and this in turn causes more excretion of bladder carcinogens in the urine of men.

Our research will focus on two things. First, we hope to decipher the molecular basis for the increased risk of cancer in the male bladder. And second, we hope that the findings and knowledge we obtain from this research can be used to devise some method to prevent this disease.

We are very excited about this research and believe it will lead to increased knowledge of bladder cancer biology. This grant will provide much needed resources as we continue to study and strive for prevention.

It’s important to know the risk factors associated with bladder cancer. Men especially should become familiar with the following:

  • Smoking: Smoking tobacco is the most important risk factor for bladder cancer. Smoking causes most of the cases of bladder cancer. People who smoke for many years have a higher risk than non-smokers or those who smoke for a short time.
  • Chemicals in the workplace: Some people have a higher risk of bladder cancer because of cancer-causing chemicals in their workplace. Workers in the dye, rubber, chemical, metal, textile, and leather industries may be at risk of bladder cancer. Also at risk are hairdressers, machinists, printers, painters, and truck drivers.
  • Personal history of bladder cancer: People who have had bladder cancer have an increased risk of getting the disease again.
  • Certain cancer treatments: People with cancer who have been treated with certain drugs (such as cyclophosphamide) may be at increased risk of bladder cancer. Also, people who have had radiation therapy to the abdomen or pelvis may be at increased risk.
  • Arsenic: Arsenic is a poison that increases the risk of bladder cancer. In some areas of the world, arsenic may be found at high levels in drinking water. However, the United States has safety measures limiting the arsenic level in public drinking water.
  • Family history of bladder cancer: People with family members who have bladder cancer have a slightly increased risk of the disease.