Bladder Cancer: Latest Research

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 06/2015

ON THIS PAGE: You will read about the scientific research being done now to learn more about this type of cancer and how to treat it. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

Doctors are working to learn more about bladder cancer, ways to prevent it, how to best treat it, and how to provide the best care to people diagnosed with this disease. The following areas of research may include new options for patients through clinical trials. Always talk with your doctor about the diagnostic and treatment options best for you.

  • Laparoscopic cystectomy. Several studies are underway to find out whether laparoscopic bladder removal is as safe as standard surgery and whether the cure rates are the same. Learn more about this type of surgery in the Treatment Options section.

  • Molecular testing. Tests to identify changes to genes or proteins that could be a sign of bladder cancer may help predict a bladder cancer recurrence or predict which patients may need more intense treatment. DNA changes may also help predict prognosis for people with bladder cancer.

  • Targeted therapy. Targeted therapy is a treatment that targets the cancer’s specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. This type of treatment blocks the growth and spread of cancer cells while limiting damage to healthy cells. Research is underway to find out how targeted therapy may be used to treat bladder cancer. For instance, a clinical trial is looking at combining targeted therapy with radiation therapy to help preserve bladder function. Learn more about the basics of targeted therapy.

  • Immunotherapy. Immunotherapy, also called biologic therapy, is designed to boost the body's natural defenses to fight the cancer. It uses materials made either by the body or in a laboratory to improve, target, or restore immune system function. One active area of immunotherapy research is looking at drugs that block a protein called PD-1. PD-1 is found on the surface of T-cells, which are a type of white blood cell that directly helps the body’s immune system fight disease. Because PD-1 keeps the immune system from destroying cancer cells, stopping PD-1 from working allows the immune system to better eliminate the disease. Currently researchers are studying PD-1 immunotherapy for people with metastatic bladder cancer in clinical trials. Learn more about the basics of immunotherapy.

  • New drug combinations. As described in the Treatment Options section, researchers are studying new combinations of chemotherapies and other drugs.

  • Palliative care. Clinical trials are underway to find a better way of reducing symptoms and side effects of current bladder cancer treatments in order to improve patients’ comfort and quality of life.

Looking for More About the Latest Research?

If you would like additional information about the latest areas of research regarding bladder cancer, explore these related items:

  • To find clinical trials specific to your diagnosis, talk with your doctor or search online clinical trial databases now.

  • Visit ASCO’s CancerProgress.Net website to learn more about the historical pace of research for bladder cancer. Please note this link takes you to a separate ASCO website.

  • Visit the website of the Conquer Cancer Foundation to find out how to help support research for every cancer type. Please note this link takes you to a separate ASCO website. 

The next section in this guide is Coping with Side Effects, and it offers some guidance in how to cope with the physical, emotional, and social changes that cancer and its treatment can bring. Or, use the menu on the side of your screen to choose another section to continue reading this guide.