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Bladder preservation treatment available at the Tuality/OHSU Cancer Center

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Contact:  Lindsay Coon | 503-681-1654 | March 19, 2015 | Health Care Cancer Center

A new bladder-preserving approach for the treatment of bladder cancer is now available at the Tuality/OHSU Cancer Center. The traditional approach has been to surgically remove the entire bladder when cancer has moved deeper into the tissues.

Supported by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network evidence-based guidelines since 2013 as an alternative to bladder removal surgery, this approach treats the tumor while preserving the bladder. The first step is for the patient’s urologist to remove the cancerous tumor inside the bladder. A regimen of chemotherapy and radiation therapy follows five days a week at the Tuality/OHSU Cancer Center for duration of four weeks. The patient then takes a four-week break from treatment followed by another two and a half weeks of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The patient’s urologist will perform regular checkups to monitor the effectiveness of the treatment.

“Patients who complete bladder preservation treatment modality will most likely keep their native fully-functional bladders for the rest of their lives,” Dr. Timur Mitin, medical director of the Tuality/OHSU Cancer Center, said of the desired outcome of organ preservation.

Mitin is a specialist in this type of bladder cancer treatment and received his training at Massachusetts General Hospital under the guidance of Dr. William Shipley, a pioneer and advocate for bladder preservation. This approach has been used over the past 40 years, with over 1,500 patients treated on multiple clinical trials in the U.S. and more patients undergoing bladder preservation treatment in Europe. Data shows that over 70 percent of patients will be free of tumor recurrence inside the bladder and therefore will never need bladder removal.

“I think we need to make physicians and patients in Portland, and in Oregon in general, aware of this work. Patients need to know they have alternatives when it comes to making clinical decisions regarding their health,” Mitin said.

Patients receive follow up urological evaluations every three to six months initially, then less frequently, to look for recurrent tumors. If no evidence of recurrent tumors exists after three to five years, Mitin said it is unlikely bladder cancer will return. However, the patient’s oncologist and urologist will continue monitoring on an annual basis to check for recurrent tumors.

“What I want to make patients aware of is that even patients who are surgical candidates, who could have surgery, they still have an option to keep their bladders with the bladder preservation,” Mitin said.

For more information on bladder preservation and bladder cancer, contact the Tuality/OHSU Cancer Center at 503-681-4200 or visit us online at tuality-ohsu-cancercenter.org.

Watch video of Dr. Mitin discussing bladder preservation »