Bladder Cancer: 3 Things to Know

(DGIwire) – More than 81,000 U.S. adults were diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2017, according to the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO). For those who have been diagnosed with this disease—or are curious to learn more about it—the first step is getting up to speed on the basics. While there is no substitute for speaking with a qualified healthcare provider, here are some introductory facts.

  • What is bladder cancer? Bladder cancer begins when cells in the urinary bladder start to grow uncontrollably, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). As more cancer cells develop, they can form a tumor and spread to other areas of the body. Most bladder cancers start in the innermost lining of the bladder, which is called the urothelium. As the cancer grows into or through the other layers in the bladder wall, it becomes more advanced and can be harder to treat.
  • What are the signs and symptoms of bladder cancer? In most cases, blood in the urine (called hematuria) is the first sign of bladder cancer, notes the ACS. Bladder cancer can also cause changes in urination, such as having to urinate more than usual, pain or burning during urination, feeling the need to urinate even when the bladder is not full and having trouble urinating or having a weak urine stream.
  • What are today’s researchers learning about bladder cancer? Rexahn Pharmaceuticals is studying a compound named RX-3117 in advanced bladder cancer. Positive data from a clinical study in patients with advanced bladder cancer were reported at the 2018 ASCO annual meeting.

“There has been very little innovation over the last 20 years in the way we treat bladder cancer,” says Douglas J. Swirsky, President and CEO of Rexahn. “There is a real need for effective and well-tolerated treatments for patients whose tumors fail to respond to standard treatments, especially for advanced bladder cancer that has spread beyond the bladder wall.”

Broadly, RX-3117 is activated by an enzyme found in tumor cells. Once activated, this compound travels into a cancer cell’s nucleus where it is incorporated into the DNA and RNA, resulting in the cell’s death. This approach differs from traditional chemotherapy, which non-selectively kills both cancer cells and normal healthy tissue in the body.

Studies to date indicated that in addition to killing cancer cells while leaving healthy cells intact, RX-3117 has shown few severe adverse events and allows oral dosing. It may also be able to work in tandem with existing therapies and facilitate a spectrum of anticancer activity.

“Those whose lives have been affected by bladder cancer either directly or indirectly should be aware that exciting research is being conducted to improve treatment options in the future, ” Mr. Swirsky adds.