Miami Cancer Institute has spearheaded the creation of the Global Bladder Cancer Consortium (GBCC), a collaboration between the world’s top experts in bladder cancer. Among the GBCC’s priorities are creating a large and diverse patient database, launching clinical trials at multiple sites throughout the world and sharing information - all initiatives that will impact patient outcomes and improve care for those with bladder cancer.
“We are very excited about the Consortium,” says the group’s leader, Murugesan Manoharan, M.D., Abbhi Family Endowed Chair in Urologic Oncology and chief of urologic oncologic surgery at Miami Cancer Institute, which is part of Baptist Health. “Any one of us, doing research at our own cancer centers, is doing so knowing it will benefit care in our own community or region. Together, with a large and diverse group of patients and by sharing information, we hope to speed advances around the globe.”
In addition to Miami Cancer Institute, other members of the GBCC are based at Dalhousie University School of Medicine in Canada; Auckland Hospital/Auckland University, Auckland, New Zealand; North Shore Hospital, Auckland, New Zealand; Okayama University, Okayama, Japan; Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, United Kingdom; Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, Kochi, India; and Adyar Cancer Institute, Chennai, India.
There are plans to expand the Consortium to include other scientist-researchers from around the globe, Dr. Manoharan adds. “The organizations are all high-volume bladder cancer centers and leading research institutions that offer the most innovative care.”
More than 81,000 new cases of bladder cancer are expected to be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2022, according to the American Cancer Society. Around the world, nearly 600,000 people were given the diagnosis in 2020. It is the fourth most common cancer in men. While less common in women, it is on the rise in females.
The cause of bladder cancer is largely unknown although advanced age and smoking are among the highest risk factors. In addition, exposure to certain chemicals and a familial history of bladder cancer place people at higher risk. Whites have a higher incidence of bladder cancer when compared to Blacks or Hispanics, but Black patients tend to have more advanced disease at diagnosis.
In recent years, improving diversity in clinical trials has been a priority at Miami Cancer Institute. “A diverse patient database gives us much more accurate and reliable data. Differences in age, gender, race and ethnicity can all contribute to a timely diagnosis and a patient’s response to medications and other treatment,” Dr. Manoharan says. “We also want to advance health equity and one of the ways to do this is to look at under-represented groups and increase their opportunity to participate in clinical trials.”
Data compiled by the GBCC and maintained by Miami Cancer Institute will be de-identified, meaning that a patient’s identity will not be shared. If physician scientists want to look at outcomes based on gender, ethnicity or some other demographic, it will be possible to break down the data accordingly, Dr. Manoharan says.
The establishment of the GBCC is possible thanks to a $5 million donation to Baptist Health Foundation from the Abbhi Family Foundation. A large portion of the gift went to the startup of the Abbhi Family Bladder Cancer Clinic at Miami Cancer Institute. It also led to the creation of the Abbhi Family Endowed Chair in Urologic Oncology, to support Dr. Manoharan’s work.
Because different countries have their own regulatory bodies and requirements that govern research and clinical trials, it won’t always be possible to coordinate clinical trials at the same time across the globe, Dr. Manoharan concedes.
“But if everyone in the GBCC agrees on a trial and applies in each of our own countries, there is a better chance that research will be done in more than one location, increasing our numbers, our diversity and the collection of valuable information,” Dr. Manoharan says. “There is also the ability to have more collaborative training, where we learn from each other. If a new technology isn’t available yet in one country, it may be being used in another. We can train where the earliest work is being done and bring it to our countries when approved.”