Weill Cornell Medicine Urology
Weill Cornell Medicine Urology
The Future of Urologic Oncology: The Latest Breakthroughs in Cancer Research

The Future of Urologic Oncology: The Latest Breakthroughs in Cancer Research

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Every year brings new advances in cancer treatment and diagnostics. The latest experimental tests and cutting-edge procedures give hope to patients who suffer from urological tumors that affect the kidneys, the prostate, the adrenals, the genitals, or the bladder. In particular, researchers and urology specialists are making strides toward detecting and overcoming prostate cancer—one of the most common cancers among men.1

Improving Early Detection by Cracking the Genetic Code

Catching cancerous growths quickly remains critical. Anything that could increase the speed or accuracy of detection would represent a major breakthrough. Fortunately, scientists are making progress. “Both clinical and scientific research have grown enormously,” says Douglas Scherr, MD, the Clinical Director of Urologic Oncology at WCM Urology.2

One promising field of inquiry involves looking at patients’ genetic makeup to determine their likelihood of getting cancer. By identifying the specific biomarkers that lead to cancer, healthcare professionals can, in theory, identify risk factors before cancer even develops.3 In terms of diagnostics, genetic testing offers at least one distinct advantage: Instead of performing an invasive procedure, doctors can inspect a patient’s blood, or even urine, making it potentially easier to screen for the disease.

Related research looks at the molecular structure of cancer cells.4 Such genetic testing has already led to breakthroughs in treatment—namely, medications that target specific gene mutations. Part of the growing field of precision medicine,5 these targeted cancer therapies promise to improve the effectiveness of treatment while minimizing the harmful side effects that accompany indiscriminate chemotherapy.6

 Multi-photon imaging techniques are also showing great promise when it comes to diagnosing and treating cancers of the urological system. “We feel that multi-photon imaging is prepared to help us further understand the molecular mechanisms of carcinogenesis,” says Dr. Scherr, who is also the primary investigator for the Early Detection Research Network (EDRN), an initiative dedicated to biomarker research.1 The goal is to one day crack the genetic code so doctors can catch prostate and other urologic cancers before they become life-threatening.

Early Detection Through Better Imaging

Early detection efforts are also gaining from research into monoclonal antibodies, spearheaded by WCM Urology’s Dr. Neil Bander. The J591 molecule, developed by Dr. Bander, has already helped medical researchers and clinical practitioners create enhanced images of prostate cancer. Better imaging not only helps physicians catch cancerous growths quicker, but also allows for more targeted and, therefore, more successful treatment.7

Minimally Invasive Treatments

Cancer treatment has come a long way since the days of open urology surgery. Now, urological surgeons use robots to perform delicate procedures. By reducing tissue damage and unnecessary pain, such minimally invasive treatment proves less destructive to the body and more conducive to long-term recovery.

At WCM Urology, we employ a combination of pioneering surgery techniques, advanced chemotherapy, and radiation treatments to give our patients the best chance of beating their cancer and living a full life. We also conduct state-of-the-art research into genomics, outcomes data, cancer registries, and tissue banking.

Visit our urologic oncology homepage to learn more about our dedication to state-of-the-art cancer research and care.


1. National Cancer Institute. "Cancer Stat Facts: Prostate Cancer." <https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/prost.html>

2. Scherr, Douglas, MD. "Advancements in Urological Oncology." <http://www.crt.org/images/files/file/Scherr-Advancements-in-Urological-O...

3. Current Medicinal Chemistry. "Molecular Diagnostic Trends in Urological Cancer: Biomarkers for Non-Invasive Diagnosis." <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3428062/>

4. Weill Cornell Medicine: The Barbieri Lab. "Research." <http://www.barbierilab.com/research/>

5. Weill Cornell Medicine Englander Institute for Precision Medicine. "FAQs." <http://ipm.weill.cornell.edu/resources/faqs>

6. National Cancer Institute. "Targeted Cancer Therapies." <https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/types/targeted-therapies/t...

7. Weill Cornell Medicine Urology. "Urologic Oncology Research Laboratories." <http://urology.weillcornell.org/research/urologic-oncology-research-labo...

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