For more than thirty years, the Saint John’s Cancer Institute has been a pioneer in the fight against cancer. Characterized by a culture of multidisciplinary collaboration and innovation, the Saint John’s Cancer Institute is a leader in translational research and is dedicated to accelerating new therapeutic discoveries to serve the clinical needs of patients.

The urology cancer team is a deeply skilled, dedicated team, focused on finding new and more effective ways to prevent, detect, treat and defeat cancers of the urinary system in both men and women. Much of the research is designed to improve detection of cancer and understand how our therapies can work better, and minimize side effects of treatment.

Current Translational Research and Medicine Highlights

  • Immunotherapy for high risk-non-muscle invasive urinary bladder cancer.
  • Instillation of local chemotherapy in the kidneys of patients with urothelial cancer (cancers that typically occurs in the urinary system) in the kidneys, who are not surgical candidates or only have one kidney.
  • Cell free DNA detection as a screening and early detection tool for all cancers.
  • A circulating tumor cell (CTC) detection wire that uses special anti-bodies to catch CTC’s as they travel in the blood stream. This device will also help screen and detect heart attack, stroke and sepsis.
  • Use of the Provenge vaccine to activate a patient’s own immune system to treat men with low risk prostate cancer, who qualify for active surveillance to possibly cure their cancer with minimal side effects.
  • Novel investigational agent Talazoparib in patients with metastatic prostate cancer and specific cancer mutations.
  • Use of a powerful new anti-androgen called Apalutamide – to possibly convert “immune cold” aggressive prostate cancers to immune sensitive prostate cancer and treat men with Pembro prior to prostatectomy.
  • Study the use of placental allografts, which deliver growth factors and stem cells, during radical prostatectomy on nerves that sit near the prostate to help men quickly recover bladder control and sexual function after a radical prostatectomy.
  • In collaboration with Las Vegas medical oncologist, Nicholas Vogelzang, MD, Vice Chair of the Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG), we are studying the value of cytoreductive prostatectomy in men with metastatic prostate cancer. This was presented at the American Urological Association (AUA) Annual Conference in San Francisco, May, 2018.
  • Novel investigational agent Rucaparib in the treatment of advanced bladder cancer: Study activated June 2018.

Upcoming Studies

Prostate Cancer

Prostate Cancer Circulating Tumor Cells (CTC)

The CellCollector EpCAM02, a new medical device to monitor circulating tumor cells in the peripheral blood stream, was developed by the GILUPI GmbH (Germany) and is now distributed by GILUPI America Inc. The detection of tumor cells in the blood can be an indication that the tumor has spread. With this knowledge, therapeutic measures can be taken. To draw inferences from the number of tumor cells about the severity of the disease might be possible. In the application of this product a thin and sensitive medical wire, like a catheter, is inserted into the blood stream. The Saint John’s Cancer Institute will be the first to test this device for prostate cancer in the United States.

Bladder Cancer

Intravesical Bladder Treatment

To prevent bladder cancer progression, techniques have been developed to instill treatment compounds and drugs directly into the bladder. These will come in contact with the bladder tissue killing cancer cells and preventing recurrence. The majority of bladder cancer patients present with superficial bladder cancer. Most patients have low to intermediate risk cancer and about 75 percent have superficial urothelial carcinomas (NMIBC – non muscle invasive bladder cancer). Many chemotherapeutic agents have demonstrated efficacy in the treatment of superficial disease. The optimal regimen as far as drug, timing, dosage, and method of instillation needs continuous rigorous study. Currently, we are doing a trial to answer these questions and provide patients more options.

Urology Database

With the urology database, our goal is to collect and store demographic data, disease characteristics, treatment parameters, and follow-up information on patients treated at the Saint John’s Cancer Institute Cancer Clinics at Providence Saint John’s Health Center for urological conditions. The database will be used to evaluate the safety and efficacy of various urological interventions from clinic to surgery, as well as monitor all urological disease through the course of treatment and follow up. The data collected will allow physicians to improve outcomes for future patients treated for urological problems, by assessment of treatment parameters, tumor control rates and the incidence of side effects.