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New tool improving prognosis on bladder cancer

Updated: 07/04/2014 11:12 PM
Created: 07/04/2014 3:12 PM WNYT.com
By: Benita Zahn

More than 74,000 Americans will get a diagnosis of bladder cancer this year. More men than women are affected.

Surgery to remove these tumors when they're not in the muscle of the bladder have a 60 to 70 percent chance of recurring.

That's changing thanks to a new tool helping surgeons find the cancer more easily.

“Immediate thought was, Oh my God,” said Mark Jester, 54, as he talked about being diagnosed with bladder cancer.

Then his doctor told him about new technology he would use to treat the disease.

“After finding out what the procedure was about, I was able to do some research with it and I found how well the success of this particular procedure is. So I was very relieved in the end,” he said.

Blue light cystoscopy is what his doctor used, and in January Mark underwent the procedure. Cystoscopy involves a small scope that's passed through the urethra into the bladder. Usually doctors use white light to look into the bladder.

However, tumors don't always show up. By flooding the bladder with a special dye and then turning on blue light on - the tumor lights up red. It works because of the blue light's wave length and how it interacts with the dye.

“It's a significant advancement,” said Dr. Paul Silverstein, a urologist at Berkshire Medical Center.

He had read about blue light cystoscopy which got FDA approval back in 2010 and championed for BMC to bring it on.

Now BMC is one of just 32 hospitals, nationwide with this technology.

“At the time of resection we can see whether or not we've resected the entire tumor because we first look and see the tumor, resect it under white light, go back under blue light and see if all the tumor is gone,” said Dr. Silverstein.

Recurrence rate for bladder cancer not in the muscle of the bladder is high -- 60 to 70 percent.

The hope is, with the addition of the blue light, those numbers will come down.

As for Jester, this father of two, grandfather of five -- he's doing just great.

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