Harnessing a patient’s own immune system to fight off cancer is one of the newest trends in the treatment of cancer in general. It turns out urologists have been doing this for decades!
In the early 1970’s, it was discovered that by treating patients with certain type of bladder cancer with the BCG virus (a virus related to the virus that causes tuberculosis), the body’s own immune system is able to significantly decrease a patient’s chance of having a recurrence of their bladder cancer!
More recently, further advances have been made in the fight against bladder cancer using immune therapy. It turns that an important part of the immune system is a series of “checkpoints” that prevent the body from attacking itself. Interestingly, many types of cancer including bladder cancer often have mutations in these checkpoints. Two new drugs Atezolizumab and Nivolumab which target two of these specific check point drugs (PD-L1 and PD-1 respectfully) have shown great promise in treating patients with advanced bladder cancer who have already failed traditional chemotherapy.
If you or a loved one have bladder cancer and are curious about the treatment options available, please call my office at 719 531-7007 and I’ll be glad to sit down and talk about all of your options based on what your goals of treatment are.