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Screening & Detection

In the area of screening and detection, the Bladder Cancer Research Center is investigating how urine testing may help with early detection of bladder cancer and screening for bladder cancer recurrence. 

Using Genetics to Help Diagnose Bladder Cancer 

Recent efforts in bladder cancer research have focused on finding the molecular origins of the disease. This important research conducted in the laboratory of Dr. David Sidransky, bladder cancer research member and university professor, has focused on understanding the relationship between genetic alterations in the bladder cancer cell and a tumor's ability to recur and progress. 

Multiple publications have shown that alterations of specific genes on chromosome 9 probably contribute to the development of most bladder cancers. Detailed molecular maps of bladder cancers have been constructed in the laboratory and provide preliminary work for understanding how bladder tumors arise and recur. 

Microsatellite Analysis of Urinary Sediment (MAUS) Testing 

These observations have led Dr. Sidransky's group to explore the novel application of molecular analytic laboratory techniques to diagnose bladder cancers. Specific molecular abnormalities can be identified in the urine of bladder cancer patients utilizing a new diagnostic bladder cancer test developed in Dr. Sidransky's laboratory. This test, called microsatellite analysis of urinary sediment (MAUS), is a very sensitive and accurate identifier of bladder cancer cells in voided urine. 

Pilot studies have already demonstrated that it can correctly diagnose bladder cancer in more than 90 percent of patients — six months earlier than conventional diagnostic testing. Ongoing studies will help define the clinical role of this new test for bladder cancer detection and prevention. 

Industrial Monitoring for Bladder Cancer 

The Johns Hopkins Bladder Cancer Research Center has established a surveillance program that provides periodic screening for individuals who have been occupationally exposed to chemicals linked to bladder cancer. The program uses microsatellite analysis and cytology of voided urine. 

Exposure to chemical carcinogens significantly increases one’s risk for developing bladder cancer. Approximately one fourth to one third of all cases of bladder cancer are believed to be caused by occupational exposure (Catalona, 1991). Those individuals at greatest risk include textile workers, painters, leather and metal workers and workers in the rubber industries (Brettschneider and Orihuela, 1990). All these occupations carry a high risk of exposure to chemical carcinogens. 

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