Public Release: 

Miriam Hospital 1 of 3 New England hospitals using technology to detect, treat bladder cancer

Blue-light cystoscopy improves chances of detecting bladder cancer; Rhode Island has one of highest bladder cancer rates in the US

Lifespan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The Miriam Hospital is using a new minimally invasive technology that improves the ability for doctors to detect bladder cancer. Using blue-light cystoscopy, doctors instil an optical imaging agent into the bladder to detect abnormal growths or suspicious areas. The procedure is performed at The Minimally Invasive Urology Institute (MIUI) at The Miriam Hospital, the only hospital in Rhode Island to offer the treatment.

"Rhode Island has one of the highest bladder cancer rates in the country, but research shows that blue-light cystoscopy decreases the chances of both bladder cancer recurrence and progression among patients," said Arthur Sampson, president of The Miriam Hospital. "Using this type of technology and providing this level of service to our patients reinforces our goal to provide comprehensive, high-quality urologic care through our Minimally Invasive Urology Institute."

Blue-light cystoscopy - not commonly used in the U.S. - improves the chances for detection. The patient is sedated and the physician enters the bladder, without making any incisions using a scope to closely inspect the lining of the bladder for signs of cancer. The doctor uses typical white light to examine the bladder. He then switches to blue light. When the equipment is switched to blue-light mode, other hard-to-see tumors that may be present become more visible. These tumors stand out against the normal bladder tissue, making it easier for doctors to identify and remove them.

Cancer of the urinary bladder, or bladder cancer, is the sixth most commonly diagnosed cancer in the U.S. and has the highest recurrence rate of any form of cancer. It is the fifth most common cancer in Rhode Island. The most common symptom is blood in urine; other symptoms include frequency, urgency or pain while urinating. Research has shown blue-light cystoscopy is more effective than other available treatments. A study published in the Journal of Urology shows that one or more additional cancer lesions were detected by blue-light cystoscopy in 16.4 percent of patients compared to white light alone. Additionally, according to a 2009 study published in the Journal of European Urology, a reduced recurrence rate and prolonged recurrence-free survival rates for oncology patients have all been seen.

"I strongly urge patients to see their doctor immediately if they experience blood in their urine or other changes in urination. They should not delay - thinking the symptoms may be related to another disease," said Dragan Golijanin, M.D., director of genitourinary oncology at The Miriam and Rhode Island hospitals and co-director of the Minimally Invasive Urology Institute at The Miriam. "By being able to detect more tumors of the bladder with blue-light cystoscopy, we're able to significantly improve disease management because there is less risk of tumors being missed during the procedure."

The most common risk factors for bladder cancer include:

  • Cigarette smoking: Smoking is the number one cause of bladder cancer. About 50 percent of men and 30 percent of women who are diagnosed have a history of smoking.
  • Chemical exposure: Those who have been exposed to certain chemicals, especially in jobs where chemicals made from arylamines are used, are at increased risk for bladder cancer. These jobs include those working with dyes, textiles, tires, rubber, leather, and petroleum. Those who work as painters and hairdressers are also at increased risk.
  • Age: The risk for bladder cancer increases with age. About nine out of 10 people with bladder cancer are over age 55.

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About The Miriam Hospital

The Miriam Hospital is a 247-bed, not-for-profit teaching hospital affiliated with The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. It offers expertise in cardiology, oncology, orthopedics, men's health, and minimally invasive surgery and is home to the state's first Joint Commission-certified Stroke Center and robotic surgery program. The first in the state of Rhode Island to perform robotic surgery and the only hospital in Rhode Island that offers a kidney stone center, The Miriam Hospital received more than $27 million in external research funding last year. It treats a range of urologic conditions and is one of three New England hospitals to offer blue-light cystoscopy for the diagnosis and treatment of bladder cancer. The Miriam Hospital has been awarded Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Services four times and is a founding member of the Lifespan health system. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@MiriamHospital) and Pinterest.

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