LOS ANGELES, April 14, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- A highly-specialized urine test can detect bladder cancer as much as three to six months earlier than an invasive cystoscopy procedure, and yet many patients at risk for this disease do not know about it.
That's according to specialists at Skyline Urology who are urging individuals at risk for bladder cancer to undergo the urine FISH (fluorescence in situ hybridization) test.
The simple test requires a urine sample and involves the mapping of genetic material in human cells, including specific genes, in the laboratory. Fluorescent dyes used in this test can detect genetic abnormalities linked to cancer. These findings can help physicians diagnose bladder cancer at an earlier stage, when treatment might be more effective.
"Because this test is capable of detecting up to 95% of aggressive, high-grade bladder cancers, Skyline Urology wants individuals who are at risk for bladder cancer to take advantage of this important, non-invasive diagnostic tool," says Dr. Alec Koo, Skyline Urology's managing partner.
Those at risk for bladder cancer include individuals with a history of tobacco smoking and those with type 2 diabetes who have taken the medication Actos for two years or longer. Exposure to certain industrial chemicals also has been linked to bladder cancer. Smokers who work with cancer-causing chemicals have an especially high risk of developing bladder cancer.
Caucasians are about twice as likely to develop bladder cancer as African Americans, and the risk of bladder cancer increases with age. About 9 out of 10 people with bladder cancer are over the age of 55. Bladder cancer is more common in men than in women, and chronic bladder irritation and urinary infections have been linked to bladder cancer.
The primary indicator or symptom of bladder cancer is blood in the urine, which is often detected first on a routine urine analysis test and may not be seen by the naked eye.
Alternatively or in addition, a cystoscopy is commonly used to diagnose or rule out bladder cancer. In this procedure, the urologist will place a small fiber-optic cystoscope through the opening of the urethra and into the bladder so that the doctor may see the bladder lining. If an abnormal area or growth is seen, it will be biopsied.
Cystoscopy can be performed in a doctor's office or in the operating room. A local anesthesia may be used to numb the urethra for the procedure. If a general or spinal anesthesia is used, the procedure is done in the operating room.
"In contrast, the urine FISH test requires only a simple urine sample that is processed in the lab, without the risk and discomfort involved in a cystoscopy procedure," says Dr. Koo.
While advocating for the use of the urine FISH test among patients at risk for bladder cancer, Dr. Koo points out that some individuals may be confused about the cost.
"The FISH test uses the latest molecular biology technology and is the first DNA testing used to detect cancer with only a sample of urine," explains Dr. Koo.
"The cost for such testing is higher than standard urine tests because of the sophisticated technology involved. However, when compared to other tests used to diagnose urinary cancer -- such as CT scan or cystoscopy with anesthesia -- the cost of FISH testing is comparable or lower, especially considering the possibility of lost work time following anesthesia."
According to the American Cancer Society, survival rates for bladder cancer patients five years after diagnosis vary dramatically among patients who detected the disease early and those who were diagnosed at a later stage. Specifically, 88 percent of patients diagnosed with Stage I or early disease were alive five years after diagnosis. In contrast, only 15 percent of patients diagnosed with more advanced Stage IV cancer survived five years post-diagnosis.
"If you are at risk for bladder cancer, talk to your physician about the urine FISH test, which can give you a fighting chance for conquering bladder cancer if detected. OR, with a normal result, this test can give you and your family peace of mind," says Dr. Koo.
Formerly Urology Specialists of Southern California, Skyline Urology is the new name of the largest group of urology specialists in the Western United States. The physicians group was originally formed in 2008 to provide practicing urologists in the Los Angeles area with greater efficiencies and a robust professional partners' network to better serve patients. For more information visit us online at www.skyuro.com.
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SOURCE Skyline Urology