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, 12 (1), 97-111

Relationship Between Schistosomiasis and Bladder Cancer


Relationship Between Schistosomiasis and Bladder Cancer

M H Mostafa et al. Clin Microbiol Rev.


Carcinoma of the urinary bladder is the most common malignancy in the Middle East and parts of Africa where schistosomiasis is a widespread problem. Much evidence supports the association between schistosomiasis and bladder cancer: this includes the geographical correlation between the two conditions, the distinctive patterns of gender and age at diagnosis, the clinicopathological identity of schistosome-associated bladder cancer, and extensive evidence in experimentally infected animals. Multiple factors have been suggested as causative agents in schistosome-associated bladder carcinogenesis. Of these, N-nitroso compounds appear to be of particular importance since they were found at high levels in the urine of patients with schistosomiasis-associated bladder cancer. Various strains of bacteria that can mediate nitrosation reactions leading to the formation of N-nitrosamines have been identified in the urine of subjects with schistosomiasis at higher intensities of infection than in normal subjects. In experimental schistosomiasis, the activities of carcinogen-metabolizing enzymes are increased soon after infection but are reduced again during the later chronic stages of the disease. Not only could this prolong the period of exposure to activated N-nitrosamines, but also inflammatory cells, stimulated as a result of the infection, may induce the endogenous synthesis of N-nitrosamines as well as generating oxygen radicals. Higher than normal levels of host cell DNA damage are therefore anticipated, and they have indeed been observed in the case of alkylation damage, together with an inefficiency in the capacity of relevant enzymes to repair this damaged DNA. In experimental schistosomiasis, it was also found that endogenous levels of host cell DNA damage were related to the intensity of infection. All of these factors could contribute to an increased risk of bladder cancer in patients with schistosomiasis, and in particular, the gene changes observed may have potential for use as biomarkers in the early detection of bladder cancer that may assist in alleviating the problem.

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