Giving Compass’ Take:
• A new study from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington identified molecular characteristics of advanced bladder cancers, which will help direct treatment plans.
• What is the role of donors in supporting or funding bladder cancer research? How can medical research benefit from philanthropic funding and what more is needed to make strides?
A first-of-its kind rapid autopsy program is helping reveal the molecular characteristics of advanced bladder cancers — and point the way toward better treatment strategies for these deadly, understudied tumors.
In a new study, researchers described molecular differences in two different types of bladder cancer that had spread, or metastasized, through the body. The team’s analysis revealed potential therapeutic vulnerabilities in these metastatic tumors. They discovered that for 70% of potentially druggable targets, a biopsy of a single metastasis may be enough to help oncologists tailor a treatment regimen that targets all of a patient’s tumors. Their work also illuminated how bladder cancer can metastasize, showing that small areas of the original tumor can seed new tumors.
The study was published in final form on June 11 in JCI Insight by researchers from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington.
“The ultimate goal is to know the disease better so we can precisely treat it,” said Dr. Andrew Hsieh, a Fred Hutch physician-scientist who studies cancers of the genitourinary system and led the study.
Patients diagnosed with localized bladder tumors are nearly as likely to survive the next five years as people who don’t have bladder cancer. But if a patient’s bladder tumor is diagnosed after it has metastasized, the stats get grimmer quickly. Only half of patients diagnosed with metastatic bladder cancer live nine to 15 months past diagnosis.
While there have been many informative studies mining the molecular characteristics of localized, early stage bladder cancer, Hsieh said, “localized disease is not what inevitably kills patients — it’s metastatic disease. In order to target metastatic disease, we need to understand it.
Read the full article about bladder cancer by Sabrina Richards at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
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