As part of the program, researchers will develop biomarker tests to help predict who will get bladder cancer, discover the molecular profile of the disease to identify those most at risk, conduct a clinical trial testing green-tea extract and the experimental drug Iressa as prevention agents, and create a tumor bank to aid in scientific research.
The five-year effort is funded through a $5.9 million cancer-prevention grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to the cancer center, the department of urology and the division of urologic oncology. This is the largest prevention study in the United States to focus on bladder cancer in current and former smokers, UCLA researchers said. While it is widely known that smoking causes lung cancer, tobacco use also is a major risk factor for bladder cancer, said Dr. Arie Belldegrun, a cancer researcher, chief of the division of urologic oncology, a professor of urology and principal investigator for the project.
"We will study innovative approaches to reduce the risk of bladder cancer," Belldegrun said. "And while we'll study prevention in patients who have already had bladder cancer, our goal is to develop effective prevention strategies for people who may be at risk but who do not yet have bladder cancer."
This year, doctors will diagnose 56,500 cases of bladder cancer, most in men. In all, more than 12,600 people will die from bladder cancer. Most bladder cancer cases are smoking-related, said Dr. Robert Figlin, a Jonsson Cancer Center researcher, a professor of hematology/oncology and urology, and co-principal investigator for the study. Cigarette smokers are two to three times more likely than nonsmokers to get bladder cancer.