I had a Trans-Urethral Resection of Bladder Tumor (TURBT) done by Dr. G on August 22, 2018. He told us the tumor was more extensive than he originally thought, covering almost half the interior bladder surface area. He took biopsies from two areas and resected as much of it as possible. He said there were “nooks and crannies” of the bladder that were impossible to scrape completely clean. We are to return in eight days for the lab report and to go over a treatment plan.
August 30, 2018: The final pathology report states: “High grade papillary urethral carcinoma, noninvasive.” It was classified as “Pathologic stage pTa.” Dr. G explained that the cancer was superficial. It had not penetrated into the muscular layers of the bladder, but it was high grade. This meant that it poses a high risk for recurrence and it must be monitored with repeat cystoscopic examinations every few months for at least five years.
Dr. G wants to give the bladder time to recover from acute inflammation. Then he will re-stage the cancer and start me on treatment. I’m to return for follow-up cystoscopy and re-staging on November 7. Then he plans to put me on BCG instillations, the most common treatment for this type of cancer.
(BCG stands for Bacillus Calmette-Guerin vaccine, an anti-tuberculosis vaccine developed in France about a century ago. It is used in many countries to help prevent tuberculosis, though not in the US.) Around 50 years ago researchers found that instillation of BCG fluid into the bladder after TURBT helped suppress bladder cancer. It must be repeated weekly for several weeks, and then every few months for several years. Side-effects can flare up at any time and are fairly common. This has been the mainstay for treating superficial bladder cancer for the last forty years.
After reading about this, I also read about an unconventional approach to treating bladder cancer with food. Dr. William W. Li, a medical scientist, has done extensive research on this subject at Harvard. Cancer requires a rich supply of blood vessels to bring it the sugar it needs to keeps growing rapidly. It stimulates the rapid growth of blood vessels for this purpose, and it thrives on the abundant sugar provided. Sugar feeds cancer!
Paradoxically, Li found that extracts of many vegetables and fruits suppress or stop the growth of cancer cells in careful laboratory testing. Vegetables in the cabbage-kale family (cruciferous vegetables) stop bladder cancer cell growth. A number of other antioxidant-rich veggies and fruits are almost as effective.
His published research, along with other research that I studied, convinced me that treating bladder cancer with an anti-cancer diet was a realistic option. I asked Dr. G if we could try this before going to BCG treatment. Skeptical, but willing to humor me, he said I could try. I started my anti-cancer diet program immediately, not waiting for the re-staging of my cancer on November 7. Perhaps we’ll learn then if the diet is having any impact.
[Blog to be continued next week.]