Areas of Research

What types of bladder cancer research are being carried out?

There is much more to learn about bladder cancer risk factors, causes, prevention, and treatment. Researchers are working around the world to develop new technologies, investigate new types of medicines, and learn more about what causes bladder cancer to develop and how it might be prevented.

There are many areas of research, including:

  • New types of surgery
  • New types of medicines
  • New types of therapies
  • Some people with bladder cancer may choose to take part in a clinical trial that is investigating new types of drugs or therapies.

    What new surgeries are being researched?

    Surgeons already perform surgery for other types of cancers with the assistance of advanced computerized robots.1,2 Research is being conducted now to find out if this technology is effective for helping surgeons remove the bladder as part of treatment for bladder cancer surgery. This new technology is called robotic cystectomy.

    What new medicines are being researched?

    Many new types of medicines are being developed to treat cancers, and some of those are being tested to see if they are effective in treating people with bladder cancer.1,2 For example, immunotherapy is a very promising area in bladder cancer research. Immunotherapy drugs are new medicines that work by helping the body’s own immune system to fight cancer cells. Some immunotherapy drugs have already been shown to be effective against bladder cancer and have received approval for treating advanced bladder cancer.

    What new therapies are being researched?

    There are several new types of therapies that are being researched to find out if they can help to treat people with bladder cancer.2,3 For example, proton beam therapy is similar to standard radiation therapy, but it uses a different type of energy that is made up of proton particles. Researchers are testing this therapy to see if it is more effective than standard radiation therapy in treating bladder cancer.

    Photodynamic therapy is a new treatment being studied for bladder cancer that is located in the lining of the bladder. A light-sensitive drug is delivered to the cancer cells via the bloodstream, and then the drug is activated with a beam of laser light. The drug then attacks cancer cells in the bladder lining, with minimal damage to healthy cells.

    Gene therapy is a very new type of treatment, which is only beginning to be studied for treating bladder cancer. The therapy works by affecting the genes within cancer cells and helping the body’s immune system to fight those cancer cells more effectively.

    What are clinical trials?

    Clinical trials are an important part of the process of developing and testing new treatments for bladder cancer.4 Patients volunteer to be part of a research study to find out if new drugs or therapies are more effective than existing treatments. There are many clinical trials that are studying the effects of new types of immunotherapy treatments for bladder cancer, for example. Your healthcare providers can provide more information about taking part in clinical trials, and whether there are clinical trials that would be suitable for your specific type of bladder cancer.

    Written by Anna Nicholson | Last review date: September 2017.
    View References
    1. What’s New in Bladder Cancer Research? American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/bladder-cancer/about/new-research.html. Accessed September 2017.
    2. Bladder Cancer: Latest Research. ASCO. http://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/bladder-cancer/latest-research. Accessed September 2017.
    3. Proton therapy. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/proton-therapy/home/ovc-20185455. Accessed September 2017.
    4. Bladder Cancer: About Clinical Trials. ASCO. http://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/bladder-cancer/about-clinical-trials. Accessed September 2017.