Preventing Bladder Cancer Relapse: What the Research Says

by Malaika Hill Health Writer

Bladder cancer is one of the most common cancers in the United States, and it has one of the highest recurrence rates. For this reason, scientists are constantly devoting their efforts to researching how to prevent bladder cancer from coming back in people who have already received initial treatment. Here is what scientists have found.

Gene sequence.

What role do genetic changes play?

Scientists believe that genetic differences in bladder cancer cells compared to normal cells may be able to tell doctors more about the likely course that bladder cancer may take in people who have been diagnosed. If this genetic testing is possible, doctors can use this information to determine whether a person’s bladder cancer has a likelihood of recurrence and to select the best treatment option.

Urine sample.

A urine test that detects bladder cancer

A urine test that detects telomerase in urine may be helpful in determining whether bladder cancer is likely to recur, particularly in people whose bladder cancer has not yet spread outside of the inner lining of the bladder. Telomerase is an enzyme that is highly present in cancer cells.

Vitamin # supplements.

Vitamins, supplements, and minerals: Part 1

Vitamin E, which is naturally found in some foods, is made of antioxidants that improve the immune function of healthy cells and may prevent cancer cells from developing. Scientists are researching whether taking vitamin E supplements may reduce the risk of bladder cancer relapse.


Vitamins, supplements, and minerals: Part 2

Selenium is a mineral that is found in grains, nuts, and meats. People with high levels of selenium in their systems may have a lower risk of developing bladder cancer due to its ability to protect the body from contaminants, slow down tumor growth, and kill cancer cells.

Green tea extract.

Vitamins, supplements, and minerals: Part 3

The chemical elements of green tea extract have been shown to affect cell movement, a process that is necessary for cancer cells to grow and invade healthy cells. Components of green tea have also been shown to specifically combat bladder cancer cells. The anti-cancer effects of green tea are being researched to determine whether they can prevent the reoccurrence of bladder cancer.


Help from vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, contain isothiocyanates — biologically active compounds that have anti-cancer properties. Researchers are studying whether ingesting broccoli sprout extract can reduce the risk of recurring bladder cancer. Research has already found that eating cruciferous vegetables reduces the risk of developing initial bladder cancer.


Repurposing vaccines

A vaccine for tuberculosis, BCG, has been successfully used as an immunotherapy drug to prevent bladder cancer from growing back. Scientists have found that when BCG is in the bladder, it forces the body to attack cancer cells that were not killed during initial therapy and therefore prevents the cancer cells from growing back or spreading.

New drugs in the pipeline

A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clinical trial for a new drug that has been shown to kill bladder cancer cells is being investigated in human study participants. The antifungal intravenous drug Ciclopirox Prodrugis has been shown to kill bladder cancer cells and may be used to prevent relapse.

Vial of medicine for research.

The evolution of immunotherapy drugs

Immunotherapy drugs have become a promising therapy for preventing reoccurring bladder cancer with new drugs receiving FDA approval every year. Intravesical immunotherapy works by introducing a live germ in the body that forces the body to react by attacking the live germ and simultaneously killing bladder cancer cells.

Malaika Hill
Meet Our Writer
Malaika Hill

Malaika Hill is a freelance health writer specializing in ophthalmology and population health. For the past decade, she has dedicated her work to helping eye care professionals communicate advances in ophthalmic research to their peers and patients in an effort to provide the highest-quality eye care. She serves on the editorial board of the Interdisciplinary Association for Population Health Science where she is committed to exploring and communicating short- and long-term strategies to prioritize eye and vision health disparities across the world. Malaika can be found on her website, LinkedIn @malaikadavid, or Twitter @malaika_hill.