“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 tumours.
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 tumours.”
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 tumour 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.
Lund research group on bladder cancer
The research on the classification system has its roots in an interdisciplinary collaboration in the Lund research group on bladder cancer. The group comprises researchers from the Urology Clinic in Malmö, led by reader and consultant Fredrik Liedberg, and Mattias Höglund’s research group at the Oncology Clinic in Lund. An international collaboration has begun with a research group at the MD Andersson Cancer Center, Texas, USA, who will use the classification system in their research.