Bladder cancer is the fifth most common non-skin cancer in the United States, with nearly 81,000 people expected to be diagnosed in 2019.
Bladder cancer comes from the tissues that line the inner surface of the bladder. Painless blood in the urine is the most common symptom of bladder cancer. The diagnosis is suspected when the doctor sees a tumor during an office procedure called a cystoscopy. Bladder cancer is confirmed during an outpatient surgery called transurethral resection of a bladder tumor (TURBT). The combination of an imaging study (such as CT scan) and the results from transurethral resection of bladder tumor (TURBT) can find out the stage of your cancer.
TURBT is a very important procedure for accurate tumor typing, staging, and grading. Your doctor can look inside the bladder, take tumor samples and cut away what he/she sees of your tumor.
Blue light cystoscopy is one way to enhance traditional TURBT. Before blue light cystoscopy, a catheter is inserted through the urethra into the bladder, and an imaging solution called Cysview is left in the bladder for about an hour. It works because bladder cancer cells multiply more rapidly than the surrounding normal bladder lining. Cysview is preferentially absorbed by these more rapidly dividing cancer cells. Under blue light during TURBT, the cancer cells glow fluorescent pink, which makes it easier to see the edges of the bladder tumor and to ensure a more complete resection.
Doing a TURBT with blue light cystoscopy has been shown to reduce tumors from coming back by 12-43% (depending on the type of tumor that you have).
Dr. Benjamin Ristau is urologist with UConn Health in Farmington, Conn.