It doesn't get a lot of publicity, but bladder cancer is the fourth most common cancer among men, exceeding cases in women by 4 times. As Vince Sherry tells us, this gender difference has captured the attention of researchers.
When Randy Hunter noticed blood in his urine, he did what most men do: he put-off calling the doctor.
Dr. Randy Hunter says "I was the pig-headed male you know, and also I was sort of nervous and scared about going to the doctors."
At the time, Randy was just 42, had no risk factors, yet was diagnosed with bladder cancer.
"Every time I have to catheterize myself, yes I did have cancer even though I feel great. And, but it's just... I'm reminded."
Men develop bladder cancer at 4 times the rate of women. Looking at what triggers it is the focus of research at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
Dr. Edward Messing, M.D., F.A.C.S. says "There are growth factors, hormones like insulin, and sex hormones, that are excreted in the urine in gigantic concentrations."
In their studies, testerone fueled the growth of bladder cancer in male mice.
"Stimulates bladder cancer development, while female hormones, it's not clear if it's estrogen or progesterone, or which, tend to be protective."
Genetically 'turning off' the receptor for testosterone also reduced risk. The next step is determing whether drugs that block testosterone or its receptor could treat, or prevent the disease.
"I wouldn't go so far as to say that we know if they're going to work or not, but certainly, it immediately opens up that possibility." say Dr. Messing.
A possibility that could help more men avoid the diagnosis of bladder cancer. This is Vince Sherry reporting.
Dr. Messing says they are currenlty comparing patients with bladder cancer to people without to see the role of hormones and receptors play. He believes a study using a hormone blocking or androgen receptor blocking therapy could be under way within a few years.
FAST FACTS: 68,810 new cases of bladder cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. this year. Bladder cancer is roughly three to four times more common in men than in women. Researchers have found castrated male mice are much less likely to develop bladder cancer than non-castrated male mice. Testosterone-blocking chemicals slowed the rate of tumor growth in mice with bladder cancer. For more details, refer to our comprehensive research summary.