University of Birmingham research could lead to major breakthrough in cancer treatment

The University of Birmingham Institute for Cancer Studies Photo: ITV Central News

A major breakthrough in the treatment of bladder cancer could be on the horizon thanks to new research carried out by scientists at the University of Birmingham.

The study, funded by Cancer Research UK, found that bladder cancer patients treated with low doses of chemotherapy combined with radiotherapy were almost half as likely to relapse than those treated by radiotherapy alone.

It could mean fewer patients having their bladders removed.

The study's co-leader, Professor Nick James from the University of Birmingham, said:

"Bladder cancer is largely a disease of older people and is also linked to smoking, meaning patients are often in relatively poor general health when diagnosed.

"Removing the bladder is still one of the most effective ways of treating invasive cancer that has spread to the muscle of the bladder. But this can be very distressing and we know patients are often too frail for such radical surgery."

Three hundred and sixty patients from around the UK were included in the study. Wendy Powell from Birmingham was one of them.

She agreed to take part in an earlier pilot study after tests revealed a tumour in her bladder "the size of a lemon".

She said: "When I was told I had bladder cancer it was a shock at first. They went through all the options for treatment and when they mentioned the trial I decided to give it a try. I did have side-effects and it has all been a hard journey, but in the end it's been worth it because here I am thirteen years later. I'm back to normal now and it's thanks to clinical trials that more people are surviving like me. I'm all for trials. It's really good they're coming up with new ways of treating the disease."