Toxicology labs now have a unique opportunity to help reduce the number of people developing severe bladder cancer which in turn will save lives.
Bladder cancer is a common cancer; it is the fourth most common cancer in the United States. Over 70,000 people develop bladder cancer in the United States each year. In most cases, the bladder cancer develops from the transitional cells which line the inside of the bladder. This type of cancer is called transitional cell bladder cancer. Other types of Bladder cancer are rare in the US.
Bladder cancer is a unique cancer due to the fact that the earlier you detect it the much better the chance of survival is. Delay in the diagnosis and treatment of Bladder does significantly alter the overall outcome.
For example, when we look at the survivability rates by stage we find some very interesting numbers:
- If a person is diagnosed in with bladder cancer in stage one the 5-year survival rate is 95%
- If caught in stage two the 5-year survival rate is 70%.
- If caught in stage three the 5-year survival rate is 34.5%
- If it is caught in stage 4 the survival rate drops dramatically to 5%
In essence, the earlier a person is diagnosed the better chance of survival they have.
So why is it important that Toxicology labs add this service to their offering?
Patients who are being treated for chronic pain may be increasing their overall risk. One of the common side effects of pain medications is urine retention. Urine retention can lead to UTIs and bladder infections. Chronic infections are a known cause of bladder cancer. The problem is made worse by the fact the pain medications mask the symptoms, allowing the spread of infection and/or cancer.
What are other causes of bladder cancer?
The exact reason why a cell becomes cancerous is unclear. It is thought that something damages or alters certain genes in the cell. This makes the cell abnormal and multiply out of control.
In many cases, the reason why a bladder cancer develops is not known. However, here are some additional factors which are known to alter the risk of bladder cancer developing. These include:
- Increasing age. Most bladder cancers occur in people over the age of 50. It is rare in people aged younger than 40.
- Smoking. Bladder cancer is 2-6 times more common in smokers than in non-smokers. Some of the chemicals from tobacco get into the body and are passed out in urine. These chemicals in the urine are damaging (carcinogenic) to the bladder cells. It is estimated that about half of bladder cancers are related to smoking.
- Other chemicals- Certain workplace and environmental chemicals have been linked to bladder cancer – for example, substances used in the rubber and dye industries.
- Gender- Bladder cancer is about three times more common in men than in women.
- Ethnic background- Bladder cancer is more common in white people than in black people.
How is testing performed?
In order to detect cancer early, there are two primary parts to a cancer screen & test. These tests can be conducted using the residual urine from a UA screen. All specimens will undergo a urine cytology first and foremost. This test is looking for the presence of hematuria, abnormal cell clusters, abnormal cell shape, or increased red blood cell count.
If the results from the cytology are negative, there is no further testing. However, about 1 in 5 cytology tests will reflex to a test called a Urovysion FISH. This test detects genetic abnormalities in cells from the bladder lining. These abnormalities can indicate bladder cancer. If these abnormalities are present, the patient’s physician can implement a course of treatment upon the receipt of the results.
Toxicology labs can easily add this testing panel to their offer for physicians and broaden the accessibility for patients to receive this rapid and advanced form of bladder cancer screening and testing.
For more information on these services, please visit Lab4lab.com and register. Labs can also always call (855) LAB4LAB.