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Vancouver Urologists Shine New Light on Bladder Cancers to Improve Detection

By September 12, 2018No Comments

Vancouver urologists are shining new light — literally — on cancerous bladder lesions, with a new tool that makes malignant cells appear pink when fluorescent blue light is shone on them.

The conventional tool used to see malignant cells in the bladder is a white light camera-tipped instrument called a cystoscope that’s passed through the urethra to the bladder. But doctors say white light doesn’t always detect smaller, flatter cancerous lesions.

So Vancouver General Hospital and the University of B.C. Hospital have acquired a blue light cystoscope that is paired with a non-toxic, photosensitizing dye that illuminates abnormal cells. An hour before the cystoscopy, nurses put the dye into a patient’s bladder through a catheter. White light imaging is still used, but the blue light is recommended as an added feature in certain cystoscopy procedures.

“Things that we didn’t see before we can now visualize with blue light cystoscopy, which means fewer trips back to the operating room,” said Peter Black, a urology surgeon, scientist, and professor at UBC. Black is one of a handful of surgeons at VGH and UBC hospitals trained to use the new drug-device combination.