Urologic Oncology

The urologic oncology research department at the John Wayne Cancer Institute (JWCI) 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. The program is led by Timothy Wilson, M.D., professor and chair of urology and urologic oncology, along with section head of urology translational research, Jennifer Linehan, M.D.,, who is an associate professor of urologic oncology.

Our program is continuing to refine standard treatments for urologic cancers, while working alongside researchers to pursue new discoveries and advances that will not only improve care of our patients, but patients around the world. Much of the research is designed to improve detection of cancer and understand how our therapies can work better. We also concentrate on minimizing side effects of treatment. For example, we have important research on how prostate cancer spreads to lymph nodes. We are investigating new therapies, including immunotherapy, to prevent progression of urinary bladder cancer and allow more patients to avoid urinary bladder removal.

In addition, we are studying a new method of detecting Circulating Tumor Cells (CTC). CTC are cancer cells released into the blood stream by cancers. Detecting them can be important for diagnosis and understanding if treatment is successful. At the John Wayne Cancer Institute, we have a state of the art Gene Sequencing Laboratory, where we can detect and study the genetics of cancer, thereby allowing us to design treatments to be more precise and effective. CTC can be analyzed in the Gene Sequencing Laboratory to understand their genetic makeup in order to design precise individualized treatments. The same kind of analysis can be done on biopsy specimens and we believe that ongoing research will allow us to design and select the best chemotherapy and targeted therapies for each cancer patient.

Current Studies

Prostate Cancer

  • Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer (CRPC) Database
    The goal of this study is to describe patterns of care and disease assessment method, as well as to identify factors influencing physician treatment decisions and settings, referral patterns and Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer (CRPC) patient characteristics associated with these. This study will also describe factors influencing treatment decisions including reason(s) for treatment choices and triggers for treatment changes for CRPC as well as describe clinical outcomes based on patient characteristics.

Bladder  Cancer

  • Immunotherapy for Bladder Cancer – Keynote 057
    The goal of this study is to find meaningful response of Pembrolizumab on high risk non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC) unresponsive to bacillus calmette-guerin (BCG) therapy, and who are considered ineligible for or have refused to undergo radical cystectomy (total bladder removal). Patients in this study will receive 200 mg pembrolizumab (MK-3475), intravenously (by vein), every 3 weeks for up to 24 months.

Upcoming Studies

Prostate Cancer

  • Prostate Cancer Circulating Tumor Cells (CTC)
    CellCollector EpCAM02
    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 John Wayne 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 John Wayne Cancer Institute Cancer Clinics and 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.

Learn more
Urologic Oncology Program at Providence Saint John's Health Center ›