Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD, director of the University of Colorado Cancer Center

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) hosts annual conferences focused on cancer types including lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, lymphoma and more, where researchers and doctors come together to discuss new science and promising treatments against these diseases. In May 2019, for the first time, AACR will hold a conference focused on advances in bladder cancer, titled Bladder Cancer: Transforming the Field. As a leader in the field of bladder cancer research and treatment, University of Colorado Cancer Center Director, Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD, will act as conference chair for this inaugural AACR meeting to be held in Denver.

Despite being the fifth most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, bladder cancer has traditionally lagged behind other cancers in terms of awareness and funding. For example, according to National Cancer Institute (NCI) data, in 2016, bladder cancer received about $34 Million in NCI funding. By comparison, breast cancer research received $519M, lung cancer received $284M and prostate cancer received $241M.

“Bladder cancer as a field that is in the midst of a very meaningful update to the standard of care treatment in more than 20 years,” says Theodorescu, CU Cancer Center Paul A. Bunn Jr. Endowed Chair in Cancer Research and University of Colorado Distinguished Professor. “New science has reinvigorated the field and we are excited for the opportunity to come together as a research community to take a new look at the disease. This AACR conference will allow us to do exactly that.”

The conference will host up to 300 international leaders in the field of bladder cancer research to discuss how new understanding of the basic biology driving the disease can be exploited to design treatments targeting the cancer. For example, new knowledge of the genetic changes driving bladder cancer is helping researchers design targeted treatments against these changes on which specific bladder cancers depend for their growth and survival. Also promising is the idea that signatures of bladder cancer could be found in urine or other fluids, helping doctors monitor and perhaps even detect the condition (the idea known as “liquid biopsy”). And researchers are learning to strip away the disguises that bladder cancers use to hide themselves from the immune system.

“We know so much more than we did a decade ago, or even five years ago,” Theodorescu says. “Now is the time to bring the field together to learn from each other how to transform these new things we know into new things that we can do for our patients.”

The conference Bladder Cancer: Transforming the Field will be held May 18-21, 2019 at the Grand Hyatt Denver.