Clients in the News – UC San Francisco Genetic Discovery Helps Guide Bladder Cancer Treatment

During cell division, seen here in a bladder cancer cell, STAG2 plays a crucial role in properly allocating chromosomes to the two newly formed cells. (Source: UCSF/David Solomon)

A UC San Francisco-led team of scientists has discovered that a gene mutation found in some bladder cancers is indicative of low-risk tumors that are unlikely to recur or progress after surgery.

The finding could help doctors spare many patients from uncomfortable, expensive follow-up tests.

The study, reported online in the journal Nature Genetics, offers a glimpse into the potential of precision medicine, which aims to use genetic information to make an accurate analysis of an individual’s disease and target it with precise therapy.

The fifth most common malignancy in the U.S., bladder cancers claim about 15,000 lives each year.

A majority of bladder cancers known as papillary tumors can be successfully treated with surgery, but about 20 percent recur and invade the muscle wall of the bladder or spread to nearby organs and lymph nodes. Thus far, physicians have not had an accurate method to determine which papillary tumors are potentially lethal, so most patients undergo frequent endoscopic examinations of their bladder using a technique known as cystoscopy to look for signs of recurrence.