A new imaging agent used during standard imaging procedures may help physicians spot bladder cancer in its earlier stages, said a bladder oncologist from Baylor College of Medicine.

This is significant because bladder cancer clinicians and researchers say early detection of bladder cancer is key to survival.

"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved (June 2010) a new imaging agent that can be used during a cystoscopy to help clinicians spot bladder cancer in an earlier stage, less aggressive stage (non-muscle invasive)," said Dr. Seth Lerner, professor in the Scott Department of Urology at BCM.

A cystoscopy is an endoscopic procedure clinicians perform to view the inside of the bladder and urethra under white light.

The new imaging agent, called Cysview, is instilled into the bladder one hour prior to the procedure through a catheter inserted through the urethra. A cystoscopy is performed first under white light then under blue light which causes the tumors to fluoresce red, helping the clinician to see cancer that may otherwise not be visible under white light and therefore lead to a more complete identification and removal of all the tumors.

In clinical studies comparing white light-alone cystoscopies, adding the dye was significantly more effective for detecting non-muscle invasive cancer. “Cancer recurrence rates were also reduced.“

“Certain forms of bladder cancer can be hard to detect," said Lerner. “This advancement represents a step forward in improving detection practices and the potential to reduce the burden and cost of treating this disease."

Lerner said the new technique should be available for wide-spread clinical use in the fall 2010.