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Health Spotlight: Blue light makes bladder cancer glow pink

Health Spotlight: Blue light makes bladder cancer glow pink

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — This year, more than 82,000 people will be told they have bladder cancer, and almost 17,000 will die from it. Now, new technology is helping to light up the problem like never before.

Frank Sinatra had it, so did Jack Lemmon, Telly Savalas, and U.S. Senator Hubert Humphrey – bladder cancer is almost three times more common in men than women. The key to beating it – early detection.

One of the first signs is blood in the urine. Also, patients may have to urinate frequently and experience pelvic or back pain. Detecting it early is key to survival.

“It’s very important because when we find this, people on this stage, we can offer them the treatment, aggressive treatment,” said Amirali Salmasi, MD, Urologist at UC San Diego Health.

Oncologists at UC San Diego are now using blue light cystoscopy to detect and monitor bladder cancer. It’s the same technology used in computer monitors, smart phones, tablets, and TVs. Before the procedure, urologists insert a special dye into the bladder. Then, using a catheter, doctors use a camera with a white light to look inside. Then, they switch to a blue light. Combined with the dye, it makes the once undetectable cancer cells glow florescent pink.

“With blue light, the cancer cells accumulate this drugs and they have fluoresce,” Salmasi said. “By doing that, we can have some contrast between the tumor cells and the normal cells, and by doing that increase our detection rate. In 11% of the people, they can change your diagnosis or upgrade your diagnosis.”

It’s FDA-approved and can be used in both the clinic and the operating room, for new diagnosis and also monitoring those who are battling the disease.

This story was created from a script aired on WISH-TV. Health Spotlight is presented by Community Health Network.