The type II diabetes drug pioglitazone (sold under the trade name Actos) has come under intense scrutiny since 2010 regarding its link to an increased risk of Actos side effects cancer involving the bladder. The Food and Drug Administration originally reported that they could find “no statistically significant association between Actos exposure and bladder cancer risk.” However, in June 2011, the agency revealed that those taking the medication for longer than one year were at an increased risk. The manufacturer, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, now faces hundreds of Actos lawsuit claims.
Some types of bladder cancer – namely, high-grade malignancies – are very aggressive; they metastasize (spread) quickly. For this reason, it is important to detect the condition as early as possible. The sooner it is diagnosed, the more likely it can be treated successfully. Below, we’ll explain how early screening and diagnosis are conducted, and describe common Actos and bladder cancer symptoms.
Early Screening For At-Risk Patients
If a person is not at high risk for developing bladder cancer, screening is rarely recommended. It offers negligible value. However, because the disease has a high rate of recurrence, those who have been diagnosed with it in the past should be screened regularly. Additionally, given the FDA’s 2011 safety announcement about pioglitazone, diabetics who have used Actos for extended periods should likewise be tested on a regular basis.
Screening involves several tests, beginning with a urinalysis. This is a study that checks for hematuria, a condition in which red blood cells are present in the patient’s urine. Hematuria is not a conclusive sign of cancer, but does warrant further investigation.
Another test called a urine cytology may also be ordered. A urine sample is taken and examined under a microscope by a pathologist. Changes in the structure of cells found in the urine may reveal the onset of cancer.
A number of other screening tests may be ordered to look for signs that indicate the presence of cancer cells. For example, there are several tumor markers, such as bladder tumor-associated antigen (BTA) as well as the proteins mucin and NMP22. Although results from these studies are inconclusive, they can prompt doctors to perform additional tests.
Signs Of Actos Causing Bladder Cancer
Screening is done in the absence of symptoms. When symptoms present, it is important to have a doctor perform a complete workup. Common signs of bladder cancer include blood in the urine, a frequent (and often urgent) need to urinate, and pain during urination. Many patients also experience a need to strain while urinating.
Bladder Biopsies And Imaging Tests
If early test results suggest the presence of a tumor, doctors usually recommend a bladder biopsy. A cystoscope (a hollow, optical instrument) is inserted through the urethra, and advanced toward the bladder. A special solution is used to flood the bladder to provide clearer visualization. A tissue sample is removed for further examination by a pathologist.
The tissue sample can reveal the extent to which the cancer has penetrated the bladder wall. This helps the doctor choose an appropriate treatment option. Treating invasive tumors – those that have penetrated into the deep tissues – requires a different approach than those that remain contained within the organ’s innermost layers.
A number of imaging studies may be ordered to determine the extent to which the cancer has spread beyond the bladder. This includes metastasis to the pelvic lymph nodes as well as the organs and tissues in distant areas of the body. Computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and ultrasound are often performed.
A test called retrograde pyelogram may also be ordered. This study introduces a dye to the bladder via a catheter passed through the urethra. X-rays are then taken to display the dye, and potentially reveal tumors.
If the patient complains of pain in the bones, a bone scan is ordered. During this test, a substance containing radioactive tracers is introduced into a vein. Once the tracers have been absorbed into the bone suspected of containing cancer cells, images are taken. Images that display areas of high activity may indicate cancer.
Even if you show no symptoms of Actos side effects cancer, early screening may be warranted if you use this diabetes medication. Pioglitazone-containing drugs have already been withdrawn from France and Germany. In the U.S., the FDA is continuing to review data regarding the risk posed by Actos.
If you have used Actos and been diagnosed with bladder cancer, you may be eligible to file a claim for compensation. Contact an Actos bladder cancer lawsuit attorney to discuss your case. There is never any cost or obligation to speak to us regarding your legal options.