Treatment of Bladder Cancer

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Treatment options for people with bladder cancer are:

Surgery

Surgery is an option for most people with bladder cancer. It can be one of the following:

Transurethral resection (TUR): The doctor inserts the cystoscope into the bladder through your urethra. The cutting tool is slipped through the cystoscope. A small wire loop at the end of the tool removes the cancer and burns away remaining cancer cells with an electric current.

Open surgery: The surgeon makes an incision into your body to remove the cancer from your bladder. It can be Partial cystectomy (removal of a part of the bladder) or radical cystectomy (removal of the entire bladder).

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It may be used to treat bladder cancer before or after surgery. You may receive chemotherapy in different ways:

  • Into the bladder
  • By mouth
  • Into a vein

Chemotherapy kills fast-growing cancer cells, but the drugs can also harm normal cells that divide rapidly such as blood cells, cells in the hair roots and the cells that line the digestive system.

Biological Therapy

People with early bladder cancer may receive a treatment called biological therapy. The treatment is BCG solution, which is a liquid containing weakened bacteria. The bacteria help your body’s immune system to kill cancer cells in the bladder.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. It may be given after surgery. Usually it’s given along with chemotherapy for cancer that has invaded the muscle layer of the bladder. However, it is sometimes given instead of surgery or chemotherapy.

Rehabilitation

The goals of rehabilitation depend on the extent of disease and surgery. If the surgeon removes your bladder, you’ll need a new way to store urine. After your bladder is removed, the surgeon uses a piece of your small intestine or large intestine to make a new path for urine to exit the body or be stored. Your health care team can tell you more about the following options:

  • Bag worn outside your body under your clothing
  • New bladder or pouch inside your body
  • New bladder connected to your urethra
  • New bladder connected to a stoma

Nutrition

It’s important for you to take very good care of yourself before, during, and after cancer treatment. Taking care of yourself includes eating well so you get the right amount of calories to maintain a good weight. You also need enough protein to keep up your strength. Eating well may help you feel better and have more energy.

Follow-up Care

You’ll need regular checkups (such as every 3 to 6 months) after treatment for bladder cancer. Checkups help ensure that any changes in your health are noted and treated if needed. If you have any health problems between checkups, you should contact your doctor.

Bladder cancer may come back after treatment. Your doctor will check for return of cancer. Checkups may include a physical exam, blood tests, urine tests, cystoscopy, or CT scans.

Sources
National Cancer Institute
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention