First in Utah: New Life-saving Technology at Intermountain Medical Center Improves Detection, Survival of Bladder Cancer

Utah’s cancer patients have renewed hope for survival thanks to new technology that doctors at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray are using to find difficult-to-locate cancerous tumors in patients with bladder cancer.

Intermountain Medical Center is the first and only hospital in Utah and the Intermountain West to utilize the new technology – called Blue Light Cystoscopy with Cysview – that significantly improves detection of cancerous tumors in patients with bladder cancer.

In May 2016, Michael Peterson, 75, was diagnosed with his fourth type of cancer – bladder cancer. He had already overcome thyroid cancer, kidney cancer, and prostate cancer during the past 10 years.

“When we got word I now had bladder cancer, it was one more thing we had to get through,” said Peterson. “It was pretty devastating to me and my family. But we decided to carry on and see what’s next.”

Days later, Peterson had an outpatient procedure to remove the cancerous tumors in his bladder. However, bladder cancer is difficult to detect and has a high rate of recurrence.

“One cause of recurrent bladder cancer is that cancerous tumors often aren’t seen or detected during initial procedures, thus leaving them in there to continue growing,” said Jay Bishoff, MD, director of the Intermountain Medical Center Urological Institute in Murray. “In as many as 30 percent of bladder cancer patients, tumors that aren’t easily seen may not be removed, and the patient has a recurrence weeks or months down the road.”

Prior to the new Blue Light technology, doctors used standard cystoscopy, a procedure that allows them to look directly inside the bladder for abnormal growth with a scope, using standard white light.

This current standard, however, can miss hard-to-see tumors. Combining Blue Light Cystoscopy with Cysview — an imaging solution that is delivered into the bladder and is absorbed by cancerous tissue — along with the white light, makes cancerous tumors much more visible and easy to remove.

“In Mr. Peterson’s case, we were only able to initially see a few tumors that needed to be removed while under the white light,” said Dr. Bishoff. “But once we switched to the blue light, we identified even more tumors and were able to remove all of them, thus significantly lowering his risk of recurrent bladder cancer.”

Here’s how the new technology works:

  • A chemical is placed in the bladder via a catheter one hour before the procedure. During that time, the cancer cells will absorb the chemical “dye,” or material called cystview, but the normal bladder cells won’t absorb the material.
  • One hour after installation, the cysview, or fluoroscopic dye, is washed out of the bladder.
  • Under white light, the bladder has its normal appearance and any visible tumor is biopsied and cauterized, which destroys it.
  • The new technology, or blue light, is then used to illuminate the fluorescent dye and an orange flare is easily distinguished as a tumor in contrast to the normal bladder tissue.

Bladder cancer is the sixth most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates that 72,570 new cases of bladder cancer are diagnosed each year.

“We’re excited by this new research-based technology that more accurately diagnoses cancerous tumors in the bladder and that can provide patients with better outcomes and less chance of recurrence, all while reducing the healthcare costs of treatment,” said Dr. Bishoff.

Peterson is now able to return to his normal activities, like working in the yard and taking care of his family.

“I enjoy spending time with my kids and grandkids and look forward to the extra time I get to spend with them because of the expertise and technology used on my behalf,” he said.