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Prevalence of Actos Bladder Cancer and Prognosis for Patients

A bladder cancer prognosis will vary from person to person, depending on how early the disease is detected, which is why it’s important to know if you are in a high-risk group. The controversy surrounding the incidence rates of bladder cancer in people who have used diabetes drug Actos has prompted medical researchers across the world to conduct a number of major studies. The outcomes uniformly indicate that those taking Actos are more likely to get bladder cancer than the rest of the population. According to one study, Actos users were up to 83% more likely to develop bladder cancer after taking the medication for more than two years.Actos pill boxes

The American Cancer Society states that 1 in 26 men, and 1 in 86 women, will develop bladder cancer during their lifetime. In June , 2011, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a safety warning about Actos, indicating that patients taking the medication for more than 12 months may be at up to a 40% increased risk of bladder cancer.

Bladder cancer incidence rates

A major 10-year study of Actos conducted in the United States is due to conclude in 2013. It is the most comprehensive study of the drug ever undertaken, and is expected to provide the most accurate assessment yet for the risk of Actos-related bladder cancer. The drug is manufactured by Japan-based Takeda Pharmaceuticals.

So far, the study’s findings indicate an increase in bladder cancer incidences according to how many months a patient uses Actos for:

  • Less than 12 months: no significant increase in risk
  • 12 to 24 months: 30% increased risk
  • 24 to 28 months: 50% increased risk
  • More than 48 months: greater than 50% increased risk

Though the true long-term side effects of Actos, including an increased bladder cancer risk, will not be known until the study releases it’s final results later in 2013, it’s already clear that the length of time type 2 diabetes patients are on the drug has a major impact on the likelihood of a cancer diagnosis.

Other factors

There are a number of factors at play in determining a cancer risk.

Actos users who fall into any of the following categories should be especially vigilant:

  • Men: It has long been understood that the bladder cancer incidence is higher among men than women. In a Canadian study, it was found that only one woman for every four men developed bladder cancer.
  • Older than 65: In 72% of cases, the onset of bladder cancer in the general population happens after the age of 65.
  • Smokers: As with many kinds of cancer, smokers are at a greater risk. For Actos users, 63% of those who developed bladder cancer were also smokers.
  • Obese: Around 59% of Actos users who developed bladder cancer were also obese. In the general population, obese people have a 40% increased risk of bladder cancer.
  • High glycated hemoglobin levels: Of all the bladder cancer incidences among Actos users, 52% of them had a glycated hemoglobin level greater than 7.4% (above the 7% recommendation given by the American Diabetes Association).

Bladder cancer prognosis and survival rate

Survival rates are statistical data that can help patients understand their bladder cancer prognosis. A commonly-used term is the “5-year survival rate,” which refers to the percentage of people who live at least 5 years after their cancer is diagnosed.

Survival rates are based on the previous outcomes of large numbers of people who were diagnosed with bladder cancer. There are numerous factors in determining an individual’s chances of survival, such as lifestyle, underlying health problems, what stage the cancer is at, and how well the patient responds to treatment.

The National Cancer Institute compiled 5-year survival rates based on thousands of bladder cancer diagnoses between 1988 and 2001. The findings showed the following 5-year survival rates:

  • Early detection: 98%
  • Stage I cancer: 88%
  • Stage II cancer: 63%
  • Stage III cancer: 46%
  • Stage IV cancer: 15%

Treatment options

Depending on how early your bladder cancer is detected, you have a range of treatments available to you:

  • Surgery: If there is a small tumor that has not invaded the bladder wall, surgical removal may be an option. In cases of invasive cancer, a cystectomy may be performed to remove the entire bladder. Sometimes additional bladder cancer surgery will be required to create a new way of draining urine from the body.
  • Immunotherapy: Drugs can be used to promote the body’s natural production of cancer-fighting cells and improve a patient’s bladder cancer prognosis.
  • Chemotherapy: Two or more chemotherapy drugs may be combined to kill cancer cells. They may be administered intravenously or through the urethra. Chemotherapy is often used in combination with surgery, either before the procedure to shrink the tumor and allow less invasive surgery, or after the procedure to kill any remaining cancer cells.
  • Radiation therapy: Often used in combination with chemotherapy, radiation therapy works by rotating a high-energy beam around the body, pointed at precise points.

Each bladder cancer prognosis will differ from the next, according to concomitant health factors, and the stage at which the cancer is at. Your doctor will discuss with you the most appropriate course of action for your condition.