New Research Helps to Diagnose Early Stages of Bladder Cancer

New research by scientists has led to the creation of an electronic device that can possibly detect the early stages of bladder cancer as well as monitor its ongoing symptoms.  The complex device is said to be efficient and cost-effective and yet simple to use.

Bladder cancer is a common form of cancer that begins in the urothelial cells and can gradually affect other parts of the urinary tract drainage system. Each year, in the United States alone, about 68,000 adults are affected. In Europe, since 2015, there has been a number of estimated new cases of around 131,000 people. At this rate, it is expected to increase to about 141,000 by 2020. Bladder cancer commonly occurs in men more frequently than in women and it usually affects older adults, though it can potentially affect any age.

About 7 out of 10 bladder cases are diagnosed at the early stages- this is the stage that is the most treatable. For this reason, it is necessary for patients to do follow-up examinations and tests to monitor progression. With the development of this new electronic device by researchers, diagnosing bladder cancer can now happen at a faster rate. The device was designed by a team from the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV), the La Fe Health Research Institute (IIS- La Fe) in Valencia and the Centre for Biomedical Research in the fields of Bioengineering, Biomaterials and Nanomedicine in Madrid. The idea was to create a non-invasive way that can replicate the power of a sensor with ‘taste-detecting’ capabilities.

Prior to the new research, the most common way to test for bladder cancer was through cystoscopies, which were invasive and very expensive to perform and urine cytology tests which were not that compelling in detecting the early stages of the cancer. Now, with the help of the medical researchers from Valencia and Madrid, a new device which they dubbed as the ‘electronic tongue’, but is actually a voltammetric device, that mimics the mechanics of the human taste palette. Using pattern-information technology, sensors can detect subtle compounds to evaluate food, liquids and even the bio-fluids to detect diseases. The electronic tongues test urine samples to determine the different metabolic differences in the samples.

Final testing is underway but so far researchers are ecstatic about the new discovery as several trials made by the team have already been recognized and approved by the FDA. Surely this device is on its way to becoming the cheaper, easier to use alternative for detecting early stages of bladder cancer.

References:

  1. ‘Electronic tongues’ may help diagnose early stage bladder cancer, July 2019, MedicalNewsToday
  2. ADXBLADDER for detecting bladder cancer, April 2019, NICE 
  3. Bladder Cancer, MayoClinic
  4. Epidemiology of bladder cancer in Europe. EuropaEU