Expertscape's Brendan McAdams speaks with Expertscape World Expert Dr. Ashish Kamat of MD Anderson Cancer Center about where the latest research into Bladder Cancer is headed.
Hello, Dr. Kamat. What do you consider to be the most significant advancement in Bladder Cancer research, and what has that impact been?
Dr. KamatThat's a good question. The most significant advancement in bladder cancer research and treatment in recent years has been advances in immunotherapy. These advances are clearly most recognized and discussed in the metastatic disease state, but it's also for the early stages of disease, where using an older form of immunotherapy (example: BCG) has allowed a lot of patients to save their bladder. The newer advanced systemic immunotherapy has allowed a lot of patients with metastatic diseases to potentially be cured, where previously almost no one was cured.
Make a prediction for us. What do you think will be the next big discovery in the study and treatment of Bladder Cancer and what will that mean for those afflicted?
Dr. KamatOne of the things that we in the field in general have recognized -- but is now being implemented more consistently -- is that the individual patient and their support system is an integral part of any treatment paradigm. It's not a new discovery, but my prediction is that getting more enhanced recovery and patient navigation pathways built into every stage of treatment will make a bigger impact on patient outcomes than each individual drug or surgical intervention taken by itself.
Our users may wonder: "There are plenty of Bladder Cancer specialists near me. Are there particular considerations that warrant traveling a distance to see a world expert?"
Dr. KamatRight off the bat, I do want to stress that there are very good bladder cancer doctors everywhere. However, someone travelling to my clinic in Houston, Texas is not just seeing me as an individual expert but rather an entire team. Nobody, including myself, gets to be at the top of their game without a talented team of people around them and I am fortunate enough to have a superb team to work with. So, while a patient coming here to MD Anderson Cancer Center will certainly be treated by me, they also become part of a process that involves multiple other experts. That patient might not interact directly with everyone on that team, but the entire team is working actively to make sure they get the best treatment possible.
What are the most important questions to be asking physicians about this condition?
Dr. KamatThe most important question that a patient should ask -- and this applies to any serious or complex condition -- is "What can I do to be an active part of the treatment paradigm?" That could be something as basic as stopping smoking, to something as advanced as undergoing extensive physical rehabilitation prior to undergoing a major surgical procedure.
Here's a chance to brag about your institution. What do you like about working at MD Anderson?
Dr. KamatClearly it's the culture of MD Anderson because everybody, from the person that valets the car to those at the very top of our institution, share one common goal: which is to make cancer history. I don't mean to be cheesy when I say that because it really is true. Working in a place like this is very, very rewarding because there is just no paucity of people, or science, or facilities to help patients best address their disease, whether it is bladder cancer or other diagnosis. It makes my job much more satisfying and effective being able to focus on the patient and not having to worry as to whether I have access to what I need to ensure that any particular patient gets the best treatment.
Is there a particular organization that you'd like to talk about, one that is making a particularly important contribution to Bladder Cancer awareness, research or care?
Dr. KamatYes, I think the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network is an organization that clearly deserves more recognition because it is an organization created by patients for patients, with advisors like myself providing assistance. It clearly is the resource for patients with bladder cancer with access to clinical trial information, research opportunities, bladder cancer walks and events, and a patient community. The BCAN website is something that every patient that's diagnosed with bladder cancer should be aware of and seek out for empowerment and resources to support their treatment plan.
Thank you, Dr. Kamat.
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