Actos® and Bladder Cancer

Actos® and other drugs containing the active ingredient pioglitazone have been prescribed to patients for the treatment of type 1 diabetes since 1999. Eight years later, the first preliminary reports from a 10-year study on Actos® and bladder cancer were released. When these reports were analyzed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a safety notice was issued relating Actos® use to an increased risk of bladder cancer for patients using the drug in high dosages and/or for over one year.

Shortly after the preliminary reports were released, a new study conducted in France was completed that corroborated the data from reports. In light of the evidence found in these peer-reviewed medical studies, France has banned the use of Actos®, and Germany has advised doctors against prescribing Actos®. In the United States, Actos® continues to be prescribed, but the FDA has issued an official warning that has been placed on the drug information labels for Actos® and other pioglitazone drugs.

About Bladder Cancer

In the United States, over 69,000 new cases of bladder cancer are reported each year, and nearly 15,000 deaths per year are due to complications directly related to bladder cancer. When bladder cancer is detected early, it is considered a highly treatable form of cancer. However, even if bladder cancer is in remission, probability is very high that it will become active again. This requires patients to undergo thorough examinations periodically throughout their life.

Symptoms of Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer is associated with several symptoms, which may grow worse if left untreated. The most common symptoms of bladder cancer are as follows:

• Abdominal pain
• Blood in the urine
• Discolored urine
• Painful urination
• Frequent urination
• Feelings of urgent urination
• Incontinence
• Urinary tract infection (UTI)
• Weight loss

Diagnosis of Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer is usually first detected after symptoms are reported to a physician. The physician will then order tests to determine the cause of the symptoms. Some of the tests used to confirm the presence of bladder cancer include the following:

• CT scan
• Biopsy of bladder tissue
• Cystoscopy, a visual inspection of the interior of the bladder with a camera
• Urinalysis

Treatment of Bladder Cancer

Treatment depends on how long the bladder cancer has been present and the severity of symptoms, but the primary treatment is always surgical. Attempts are made to remove the tumor surgically, and in some cases, a portion of the bladder may have to be removed. In some severe cases, the entire bladder must be surgically removed.

Surgery is usually followed by one or more therapies intended to kill cancer cells that may not have been removed through the surgery. Follow-up therapies may include biological therapy, also called immunotherapy, chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

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