American journal of clinical oncology vol:21 issue:3 pages:217-22
Carcinoma of the bladder (CaB) is a common tumor of the genitourinary tract. In the United States in 1997, CaB was second in frequency of occurrence and third in mortality among genitourinary tumors. This tumor has a well-documented history of environmental and industrial causative factors. The strongest etiologic risk factors include the use of tobacco, which is thought to be responsible for half of the CaB diagnosed in men in the United States, and some arylamines. In the past 30 years, there has been major improvement in the survival of patients with this disease. Multiple factors were responsible for this accomplishment and they include: 1) better understanding of the natural history of CaB, 2) development of immunohistochemical analysis helpful in defining prognostic factors, 3) improved imaging and nonimaging diagnostic modalities helpful in making earlier diagnosis and better defining the true anatomical extent of the tumor, 4) development of more effective therapy for carcinoma in situ, 5) major improvement in surgical techniques resulting in better treatment outcomes, and 6) the wide use of adjuvant chemotherapy. Major stress has been placed on the quality of life of patients treated for CaB. Quality of life was improved by optimizing surgical, radiation, and medical treatment techniques. The two most important factors producing this quality-of-life improvement include: 1) the use of organ-preserving therapy in properly selected patients that involves the use of a multimodality therapeutic approach with transurethral resection, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy; and 2) the ability to treat selected men and women with radical cystectomy followed by orthotopic reconstruction that allows patients nearly physiologic voiding. Current research efforts are directed toward better patient selection for appropriate therapy which is expected to increase patient survival and improve quality of life. Of particular importance in the selection of this optimal therapy in patients with CaB is a wide application in the clinical practice of important recent advances in molecular genetics.