Researchers who took a fresh look at muscle-invasive bladder cancer through the lens of gene expression discovered that it looks remarkably like breast cancer. This resemblance has important implications for treating the most lethal form of bladder cancer.
MD Anderson scientists reported in the February edition of Cancer Cell that the gene expression profiles of advanced bladder cancer fall into three molecular categories that closely resemble three of the four major subtypes of breast cancer.
David McConkey, Ph.D.
“Several of our findings have immediate potential impact on how we address muscle-invasive bladder cancer with chemotherapy,” said study senior author David McConkey, Ph.D., professor in Urology.
“There are no targeted therapies for this high-grade cancer now, so a future implication of these findings is developing new, better approaches for treating our patients,” McConkey said.
Characterization of breast cancer is more advanced, with targeted approaches available for three subtypes and chemotherapy advised for the fourth.
Muscle-invasive disease makes up about 30% of bladder cancer cases but causes the vast majority of deaths. It’s treated with chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. About 15,000 Americans will die of the disease this year.