“With this new classification system we can better predict which patients have a poor prognosis compared to current methods,” said Gottfrid Sjödahl, a doctoral student at the Division of Oncology, Lund University.
Bladder cancer is the fifth most common type of cancer in the Western world. The treatment offered to those with bladder cancer has not changed in the past 20 years. Many cancer researchers believe one of the reasons for this is the absence of a method to distinguish molecular differences in bladder cancer tumors.
In his recent thesis, Gottfrid Sjödahl presents a refined classification system that divides bladder cancer into five sub-groups.
“We also hope that the system could form a kind of risk analysis for what type of treatment to give, for example more extensive chemotherapy treatment for more aggressive tumors.”
Chemotherapy is used relatively sparingly at present. This is partly because it would be expensive if everyone was to be given the drugs, and partly because many patients can’t cope with the treatment in addition to surgery owing to their general state of health and their age. Even if the benefits of treatment with surgery plus chemotherapy are statistically proven, many patients would receive unnecessary treatment because the type of tumor they have does not react to chemotherapy.
“We have been able to observe that many of the drugs tested for bladder cancer target molecules that are only present in one or a few of the five sub-groups. The division into sub-groups opens up new possibilities for bladder cancer research with more targeted treatment,” said Gottfrid Sjödahl.