Collaborative Study from the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network Improves Understanding of Metastatic Bladder Cancer

(November 7, 2022 – Bethesda, MD) Today, the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network, BCAN, announced publication of a paper in the prestigious journal Nature Communications describing a highly collaborative project that studied the genomic analysis of metastatic urothelial carcinoma.  Urothelial carcinoma is the most common type of bladder cancer. The study in more than 200 patients increased our understanding of the role of targeted therapy for patients with metastatic disease and built a foundation for future research that will include developing and validating much needed biomarkers for this disease. Biomarkers help doctors understand which patients are likely to respond to a particular treatment.

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“This study provided a comprehensive next generation sequencing (NGS) report at no cost to patients, created a rich repository of clinical data and provided an overarching view of the tumor and the tumor microenvironment,” said Diane Zipursky Quale, co-founder of BCAN.

Traditionally, bladder cancer treatments have been developed based on a set of clinical factors, such as the type and stage of a tumor and target an average population rather than specific individuals. Understanding the genomic characteristics of individual patients’ tumors via NGS can help doctors develop treatments that specifically target their urothelial carcinoma mutations.

Based upon the next generation sequencing, 69.3% of the patients whose tumors were studied had potential treatment options and the findings revealed an increased frequency of TP53 genetic mutations compared to those who had non-metastatic urothelial carcinoma.  Future work will utilize the biospecimens alongside these learnings and will help further understanding of urothelial carcinoma biology.

This study was a collaborative effort among eight academic institutions, led by Dr. Matthew Milowsky, Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, UNC Chapel Hill.   Dr. Elizabeth Plimack, Chair of BCAN’s Scientific Advisory Board, noted that completing this project “Is a testament to the collaborative power that BCAN has created over the years.” 

Zipursky Quale also noted, “We will work with our scientific advisors to develop a new funding mechanism to utilize the biospecimens alongside these foundational analyses to continue to advance our goal of gaining a better understanding of bladder cancer biology.”

This project was sponsored by BCAN through generous donations from the James Family Foundation, The JPB Foundation and The Gerald C. McNamara and Renee K. Petrofes Charitable Fund.

To read the paper in Nature Communications, please visit

The Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network’s (BCAN’s) mission is to increase public awareness about bladder cancer, advance bladder cancer research and provide educational and support services for the bladder cancer community.

Contact: Mark Story
Director of Communications and Marketing