Takeda Pharmaceuticals, maker of the type II diabetes medication Actos, submitted data from an ongoing 10-year study examining the Actos and cancer risk link to the FDA. Soon after, the FDA issued a public safety announcement. They cautioned that using the medication for longer than a year could lead to Actos and bladder cancer side effects.
The exposure is significant given the drug’s popularity. Nearly 2.3 million prescriptions for products containing pioglitazone (generic name for Actos) were filled between January 2010 and October 2010. Hence, it is unsurprising the manufacturer is currently facing hundreds of Actos lawsuit claims stemming from the alleged risk of bladder cancer.
The disease, while life-threatening, can be treated successfully. Before treatment can be given, however, the condition must be staged in order to determine the extent of its spread (metastasis). In the space below, we’ll describe the different stages of Actos causing bladder cancer as it advances from the innermost layers of the bladder.
At this stage, the cancer cells have penetrated the inner layers of the bladder (urothelium and lamina propria), but have not yet spread into the layer of muscle. Nor has the disease spread through the lymph system or bloodstream to other areas of the body.
Stage I bladder cancer is usually treated via transurethral resection or intravesical therapy. The former approach involves directing a thin instrument called a cystoscope through the urethra. It is used to remove the tumor. The latter approach introduces a drug directly into the bladder via a catheter. The drug may be a bacterium that activates the immune system, or a chemical used during standard chemotherapy.
During this stage, the tumor has penetrated the layer of muscle in the bladder wall, but has not yet spread to the layer of fat beyond it. As in stage I, the cancer cells have not reached the lymph nodes or bloodstream.
Treatment usually involves a radical cystectomy. This is the surgical removal of the bladder as well as nearby lymph nodes. Occasionally, the cancer cells will be contained in an isolated part of the bladder tissue, making removal of the entire organ unnecessary. In such cases, a partial cystectomy is done.
By this point, the cancer has spread through the layer of muscle into the layer of fatty tissue surrounding the bladder. Even though the lymph nodes remain unaffected, the tumor may have reached the reproductive organs. In men, cancer cells may be found in the prostate and seminal vesicles; in women, diseased cells may be found in the vagina and uterus.
Stage III bladder cancer typically requires a radical cystectomy. Before the procedure, chemotherapy may be given in an attempt to reduce the size of the tumor. This makes it easier to remove, thereby improving the chances of success. The chemo drugs may also be given after the procedure to kill residual cancer cells. This is done to minimize the likelihood of a recurrence.
This is the final stage of Actos and bladder cancer. In some cases, the tumor spreads into the abdominal wall, but not to other organs. Other times, it affects the lymph nodes, but shows no signs of further metastasis. In still other cases, the cancer moves into the bone, lungs, and liver.
Because of the extent of the tumor’s metastasis, surgery alone is seldom adequate for treatment. In fact, successfully eliminating the disease is extremely difficult once it has moved to other parts of the body. Therapy is usually given to slow the tumor’s progress, and make life more comfortable for the patient.
Chemotherapy is given as the primary treatment with radiation therapy often used as an adjuvant (secondary) treatment. In cases where the patient’s poor health precludes using chemotherapy, radiation therapy becomes the primary approach. Neither treatment is expected to cure the disease at this late stage.
Even when bladder cancer has been cured, there is a high likelihood it will recur at some point in the patient’s life. Many people who have suffered from the disease experience routine recurrences throughout the remainder of their lives.
Actos Bladder Cancer Lawsuit Help
If you are using this diabetes drug and have noticed blood in your urine, abdominal pain, or pain during urination, consult your doctor immediately. If you have already been diagnosed with bladder cancer, contact an Actos lawsuit bladder cancer lawyer to discuss your legal options and information regarding Actos and cancer risk.