Using genetic testing, scientists at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center® identified a resemblance between muscle invasive bladder cancer and three of the four sub-types of breast cancer (published in Cancer Cell February 2014). They found that the bladder cancer genes look very similar to some breast cancers.
“Several of our findings have immediate potential impact on how we address muscle-invasive bladder cancer with chemotherapy,” said study senior author David McConkey, Ph.D., professor of Urology. “These dormant (bladder) cells evade chemotherapy, which preferentially kills dividing cells.”
By taking expertise used in treating breast cancer with chemotherapy and applying it to the treatment of muscle invasive bladder cancer, patients could benefit.
As reported by MD Anderson Cancer Center, the muscle-invasive disease only makes up about 30 percent of bladder cancer cases, but causes the vast majority of deaths. It’s treated with chemotherapy, surgery and radiation.
“We know that cisplatin-based chemotherapy combinations work for about 30-40 percent of cases, but there’s no way to identify patients in advance who are likely to benefit,” McConkey said.
McConkey and colleagues identified a basal subtype of invasive bladder cancer that’s aggressive but vulnerable to chemotherapy and a p53-like luminal subtype that’s highly resistant to chemotherapy. These observations could lead to pre-treatment tumor analysis that guides the chemotherapy decision. (Full press release)