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Bladder Cancer Awareness Month: Rising to the Challenge of Bladder Cancer Care (Guest blog)

The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the provision of healthcare over the past year, and the situation is only set to worsen for those people living with cancer [1]. While frontline healthcare providers were battling against COVID-19, stretched resources and an over-reliance on telemedicine for routine health checks resulted in a consistent fall in cancer diagnoses across Europe [1]. Sadly, delays in diagnosis and treatment are expected to directly impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of people with cancer in the coming years [1].

This is why it has never been more important to be a part of Bladder Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) during this May, spearheaded by the World Bladder Cancer Patient Coalition [2]. Although often out of the spotlight, bladder cancer ranks fifth among the most frequently diagnosed cancers with around 151,000 new cases predicted yearly in Europe alone [3]. With this in mind, BCAM aims to bring bladder cancer to the forefront of people’s awareness [3]. By promoting awareness of the condition, we can encourage more crucial investment into research, treatment and care that matters most to patients [2].

This year’s BCAM has a clear and vital message for the public: become #BladderCancerAware [2]. Everyone is urged to ask the question “Have you ever heard about bladder cancer?” [2]. Because being aware and acting early provides better opportunity for effective treatment. The ultimate goals of BCAM are to raise understanding of bladder cancer, either online or in person [2, 3]. Through this we can start to see earlier recognition of symptoms among the wider public.

At Janssen Oncology, we value the power of collaborative innovation. By working hand-in-hand with representatives of patient organisations from around the world, we can understand the challenges faced by the bladder cancer community and pinpoint the most burdensome unmet needs. This is important in achieving one of our obsessions: reducing the burden of bladder cancer and transforming long-term outcomes for patients.

Following fruitful engagement with these groups, we identified unique insights across the entire patient story, from the need for earlier diagnoses, to the often severe impact of bladder cancer on the quality of life of patients and their loved ones. More broadly, there is a clear desire for improvements in health literacy, access to patient information and better awareness of the available therapies.

There is also a real and immediate need for bold treatment types, such as precision medicine, which have brought hope to many other cancer patients [4, 5]. This is exactly where Janssen Oncology wants to be – using its heritage and expertise to explore the role of predictive biomarkers, alongside genomic testing and companion diagnostics, to advance research. Through pioneering research, we aim to uncover the pathways that lead to the growth of tumours, then target them with novel treatments to delay or prevent disease progression completely. More importantly, for patients, this would change what a cancer diagnosis would mean for them.

Our research can help to pave the way for future solutions that are better tailored to individual patients, especially in areas like bladder cancer where there are still important unmet medical needs [6, 7]. We feel that harnessing the power of precision medicine will be the key to one day unlocking bladder cancer, shifting it from a difficult-to-treat disease into a manageable condition.

 

[1] WHO. Statement – Catastrophic impact of COVID-19 on cancer care. Available at: https://www.euro.who.int/en/media-centre/sections/statements/2021/statement-catastrophic-impact-of-covid-19-on-cancer-care. Last accessed May 2021.
[2] WBCPC. Bladder Cancer Awareness Month. Available at: https://worldbladdercancer.org/awareness-month/. Last accessed May 2021.
[3] European Cancer Patient Coalition. Urological Cancer. Available at: https://ecpc.org/news-events/bladder-cancer/. Last accessed May 2021.
[4] Mediratta P & Grivas P. Ann Transl Med 2018;6(12):250.
[5] National Cancer Institute. Targeted Cancer Therapies. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/types/targeted-therapies. Last accessed May 2021.
[6] Grunewald CM, et al. Aktuelle Urol. 2019;50(5):502–508.
[7] European Urology Today. Urological Passion (Page 38). Available at: https://issuu.com/uroweb/docs/eut_aug-sept_2020. Last accessed May 2021.

Laetitia Decroix Guilloux

Regional Commercial Strategy Leader, Oncology, Janssen European Strategy Organisation
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