Blue-Light Cystoscopy: An Innovative Technology to Detect Non-Muscle-Invasive Bladder Cancer

Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh

Tumors glow pink under blue light.

UW Medicine urologists with Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) were the first in Washington state to offer an innovative bladder cancer tumor detection method known as blue-light cystoscopy.

“Seventy percent of bladder cancer patients have non-muscle-invasive disease.That’s the population who can benefit,” said Jonathan Wright, M.D., a professor of urology at the University of Washington School of Medicine in a press release.

This technology can be helpful especially since the pandemic has delayed doctor visits.“We’ve definitely seen patients afraid to come in. And that’s led to delay in diagnosis, further advanced cancers and more difficulty in treating them,” said Wright in the press release.

The SCCA is listed on the National Comprehensive Cancer Network as one of the 31 leading cancer centers in the United States.

Non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer is a type of urothelial carcinoma. According to the American Urological Association, enhanced cystoscopy — which includes blue-light cystoscopy — should be offered to patients with non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer at the time of transurethral resection of bladder tumor, if available, to increase the chances of detection and decrease cancer recurrence.

Photocure’s Cysview (hexaminolevulinate HCl) is an FDA approved product that makes non-muscle invasive tumors glow bright pink under blue light during cystoscopy, making the cancer more visible.Approximately an hour before the cystoscopy, the patient has approximately two ounces of Cysview solution placed into the bladder via a catheter.The urologist examines the bladder with white light first to determine whether there is anything suspicious. Next, the urologist switches to blue light, which causes the tumors to glow bright pink.

Evidence shows that blue light cystoscopy with Cysview is safe and effective.The most common adverse effects include bladder spasm, painful urination, blood in the urine, bladder pain, pain during the procedure, urinary infection, and headache. Urologists who perform the procedure with Cysview receive training on the imaging solution and technology.