Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer occurs when cells in the bladder (most commonly the cells that line the bladder called transitional cells) grow abnormally. Bladder cancer is most widespread in ages 65 and older, though it can occur in younger patients also. Surgery is often a key part of treatment for bladder cancer. Our surgeons are all experts in the diagnosis and treatment of bladder cancer and surgeons utilize cutting-edge technology and treatment options for the diagnosis and treatment of bladder cancer.

Bladder Cancer Symptoms

• Blood in urine
• Painful urination
• Urinary tract infections
• Need to urinate frequently or urgently
• Possibly even back pain, abdominal pain, anemia, fatigue, weight-loss and urinary incontinence in most advanced cases.

Bladder Cancer Risk Factors

• Smoking: As many as half of bladder cancers in men and a third in women may be caused by cigarette smoking
• Exposure to certain chemicals
• Radiation therapy and chemotherapy
• Chronic bladder inflammation or infection
• Parasite infection (more common in third world countries)
• Personal or family history of cancer

Bladder Cancer Treatment Options

The following treatments may be used alone or in combination with one another.

Transurethral Resection of Bladder Tumor (TURBT): This surgery is performed remove the section of the bladder that is affected by the tumor while sparing the rest of the organ; usually used when treating Stage 0 and Stage I patients.

Radical Cystectomy: A surgical procedure to remove the bladder. For women, this procedure involves the removal of the bladder as well as the uterus, ovaries and part of the vagina. For men, it involves removal of the bladder as well as the prostate and seminal vesicles. This surgery usually is performed in conjunction with another procedure that creates a new way for urine to leave the body, including:

     Ileal Conduit: A small reservoir for urine is created from a segment of the bowel and urine is   drained through a urine collection appliance worn outside the body.

     Continent Urinary Reservoir: A small reservoir for urine is created from a segment of the colon and is used as an internal pouch that collects urine, which is drained regularly through an external catheter.

     Orthotopic Neobladder: Using a segment of the bowel and pouch is created to make a new bladder (neobladder), which is attached to the urethra where urine normally leaves the bladder. This procedure allows for some regular urinary control, but there are side effects and it is not recommended for all patients.

Chemotherapy: This non-surgical therapy uses drugs to kill the cancerous cells. It may be administered directly to the bladder (intra vesicle) or through a vein in the arm (systemic). Systemic chemotherapy can be used when treating patients with Stages T2-4 cancer in combination with surgery.

Immunotherapy: This non-surgical therapy uses biological therapy drugs to signal the body’s immune system to fight cancer. The drugs are inserted through a catheter directly into the bladder. Immunotherapy is usually used to treat Stage Ta, T1 and Tcis patients. In fact this is the primary treatment modality for Tcis tumors.

Radiation Therapy: This non-surgical therapy uses high energy beams aimed at the tumor to kill or shrink the cancer cells; usually used when treating Stage T2 – T4 patients.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor about Bladder Cancer

• What diagnostic tests and procedures are most appropriate for me? Why?
• What could happen if we do nothing?
• What risks are involved in my treatment plan?
• How many of these treatments/surgeries have you done?
• What will be involved in recovery? Will I have any lasting effects from the surgery?
• Are there any newer therapies available to treat my condition? Are clinical trials an option?