HOUSTON – According to the American Cancer Society, bladder cancer is the fourth most common cancer in men.
For progressed disease, typical treatment can include chemotherapy and removing the bladder, according to Dr. Putao Cen from UT Physicians and Memorial Hermann.
Dr. Cen said she’s seeing impressive outcomes for bladder cancer patients with a new drug called PADCEV.
Bodiul Alam was one of the first patients in the country to use PADCEV. Before he came to Dr. Cen, he was in so much pain he could hardly stand.
“I went to the hospital like seven, eight times, and nothing at all (happened), they just gave me painkillers. They thought it was kidney stones, so I just keep going back and forth and nothing happened,” Alam explained.
By the time he was diagnosed with bladder cancer, it was almost the end.
“It was scary, and when they told me it was stage four, my daughter was in high school, so I thought I wasn’t even going to be able to see her on graduation,” Alam said.
Dr. Cen prescribed PADCEV in combination with radiation.
“We didn’t see any tumor, and also after we stop the medication, the response maintained,” Dr. Cen said. “Now, I’m more convinced that this medication could potentially bring a cure.”
Alam’s cancer disappeared in just a few months. That was over a year ago. Alam hasn’t had any treatments since and he was able to keep his bladder.
Dr. Cen said the drug works by saving the healthy cells while targeting the cancer.
However, there’s a big warning patients must know about.
The FDA placed a black box warning on PADCEV for a skin condition that can be deadly.
PADCEV can cause severe and fatal cutaneous adverse reactions, including Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) And Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN).
Dr. Cen said she proactively gives patients skin cream or steroids to combat potential side effects.
Alam said he never developed side effects and went from preparing to die to looking forward to a long life of watching his only daughter grow into adulthood and graduate from college.
“She’s finishing college this year. I’m hoping, you know, I can see that now,” Alam said.