Bladder cancer is a common type of cancer that occurs when cells grow abnormally in the bladder. It typically develops in the inside lining of the bladder.
In more than 75% of cases, the cancer remains in the bladder lining. When cancer spreads to the bladder wall or surrounding tissue, doctors classify it as advanced bladder cancer.
Advanced bladder cancer requires aggressive treatment. The current treatment options for advanced bladder cancer include:
- radiation therapy
- surgery to remove the bladder
Researchers are also looking into new treatments to find options that are more effective and safe. Several clinical studies are currently underway.
Researchers are currently conducting several studies on advanced bladder cancer to find new treatment options or ways to detect or prevent bladder cancer.
One large study is looking into the effect that genes and mutations within a cancerous tumor have on treatment. The researchers are trying to determine whether treatments that target specific mutations in cancer cells will be more effective. The study started in 2015 and is set to conclude in 2022. There are almost 6,500 participants in total, some of whom have bladder cancer.
The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) have several ongoing and enrolling studies relating to bladder cancer. One study, which started in 2014, is looking at the effectiveness of atezolizumab (Tecentriq) for the treatment of advanced and metastatic bladder cancer. The researchers expect it to conclude in 2021.
Another UCSF study is evaluating how helpful the implantation of tiny 24-karat gold objects (fiducial markers) is for showing the original size of a bladder tumor. They are also testing the use of MRI scans to detect bladder cancer at an earlier stage. The trial started in July 2020 and is likely to conclude in 2022.
One ongoing and recruiting study is looking at the effectiveness of an immunotherapy called pembrolizumab (Keytruda) for the treatment of bladder cancer that has spread to either the muscular walls or the tissue surrounding the bladder.
The trial started in 2017, and its estimated completion date is June 2025. The organizers expect to enroll a total of 739 participants. The aim of the study is to show how well pembrolizumab works for treating bladder cancer by aiding the immune system in fighting the cancer.
Hundreds of other ongoing trials are looking at using immunotherapy for bladder cancer. The Cancer Research Institute provide a search tool to help filter through these trials.
Clinical trials change regularly, and each has different enrollment requirements. A person can use several different tools to help them find trials that are currently recruiting participants.
ClinicalTrials.gov is a government website that lists more than 300,000 studies from around the world. A person can search for studies that they are interested in learning more about or joining. A person can take the information to their doctor if they are not sure whether they are eligible for a study.
Johns Hopkins Medicine also list several trials that they conduct on bladder cancer research at their Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center. However, people who participate in their studies often need to be either local or willing to travel to Baltimore, MD.
The UCSF also provide information on several bladder cancer trials that are currently recruiting. A person can check out their list of studies here.
Scientists are actively studying ways to improve the outlook for people with advanced bladder cancer. In clinical trials, they look at the following:
- the effectiveness and safety of new treatments for treating bladder cancer
- improving bladder cancer detection so that doctors can diagnose the disease and start treating the person sooner
- preventing bladder cancer
Clinical trials are a type of study that looks at the effectiveness of new medications for treating a condition — in this case, bladder cancer. Most studies are looking to enroll specific groups of people, which means that having bladder cancer may not be enough to qualify for a study.
According to the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network, clinical trials fall into one of three phases:
- Phase 1: This part of the trial is often the first time that researchers give the drug to humans. In this phase, only a small number of people typically participate, and the researchers look closely at the side effects of the medication.
- Phase 2: In this phase, the researchers give the medication to a larger number of people. They often target a particular group, such as those with a specific subtype of cancer or those belonging to a certain age range.
- Phase 3: The researchers compare current treatment options against the new treatment. In this phase, a larger group of people receive the new medication. Researchers are looking at how well the medication works compared with existing treatments and how safe it is.
Health insurance does not always cover the costs of study participation. A person should talk to their insurance company before signing up for a study.
A person can check with their doctor about any current studies to help them determine whether they meet the eligibility criteria. Doctors are often a good source of knowledge on studies that may be recruiting.
Studies that are recruiting list their participant requirements online. Eligibility can vary greatly, so it is important that people read all of the requirements and speak to either the researchers or their doctor if they are not sure whether they qualify.
There are many ongoing clinical trials for advanced bladder cancer. A person can check several different sites to find enrolling trials and get a list of eligibility requirements.
A person can ask their doctor if they may know of any studies that are currently recruiting and whether they might be eligible. Before signing up, a person should make sure that the costs are covered and talk to their doctor about the associated risks.