Bladder Cancer Research

When the diagnosis is cancer, a major decision is where to go for treatment. Lahey urology resident Kristian Stensland, MD, has worked with other researchers to help answer that question for patients with bladder cancer.

Dr. Stensland is among the authors of a study recently published in the international medical journal Bladder Cancer that looks at a procedure called cystectomy to treat bladder cancer and the medical center at which the procedure was performed. The other authors of the study are researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, with whom Dr. Stensland has collaborated in the past.

Cystectomy is a procedure in which the bladder is surgically removed. It is used to treat bladder cancer that has spread to the bladder wall. The surgeon then reconstructs the urinary tract in order to allow urine to leave the body.

“Studies have shown that for patients having cystectomy for bladder cancer, outcomes are better at hospitals and medical centers that do more of these surgeries,” Dr. Stensland explained. “But one of the problems has been that high-volume centers are not always nearby.”

The researchers studied patients at 195 hospitals and found that in New York, it was easier now than in the past for patients to access centers that performed a high numbers of cystectomies. They concluded that encouraging centers of excellence, where hospitals can specialize in certain procedures, may be a benefit to patients.

Lahey is one such hospital, Dr. Stensland pointed out. “Lahey is a large hospital and medical center, and it behooves patients to come here to seek care,” he said. “We have a very active urology department, and we perform a large number of cystectomies each year.”

Bladder cancer accounts for about 5% of all new cancers in the US. It is the fourth most common cancer in men and is less common in women. Nearly 77,000 people are expected to be diagnosed with bladder cancer this year.

People who smoke, who are exposed to certain chemicals, or who have chronic bladder infections are at increased risk. The most common sign of bladder cancer is blood in the urine. Fortunately, bladder cancer is often diagnosed at an early stage, when the cancer can be treated more successfully.

The journal article, entitled The Relationship Between Centralization of Care and Geographic Barriers to Cystectomy for Bladder Cancer, was published in the July 2016 issue of Bladder Cancer. In addition to Kristian D. Stensland, the Mount Sinai authors are Martin F. Casey, Juan Wisnivesky, Valerie H. Le, Umut Sarpel, William K. Oh, and Matthew D. Galsky.