Scientists use mutant proteins to predict bladder cancer recurrence

In collaboration with the Press Association

Measuring the levels of certain mutated proteins in tissue samples could allow doctors to predict the likelihood of bladder cancer returning after treatment, according to preliminary research by scientists at the US Southwestern Medical Centre.

The researchers found that examining whether mutations were present in a series of proteins that regulate the life and death cycles of cells - known as Bcl-2, caspase-3, p53 and survivin - allowed them to predict whether a cancer was likely to return.

The team looked at tissue samples taken from patients who had undergone surgery for bladder cancer, and compared the levels of the mutated proteins with the patients' clinical outcomes.

In the 226 bladder cancer tissue samples tested, those that showed mutations in all four of the proteins were least likely to be alive five years later.

In comparison, those which had normal functioning in all four proteins had a 90 per cent chance of survival five years after surgery.

The finding could one day allow doctors to establish which patients will benefit from additional chemotherapy, and which patients could avoid this unnecceary treatment, said the researchers.

The study was conducted by the UT Southwestern Medical Centre in the US and is published in the journal Lancet Oncology.