With bladder cancer, abnormal cell growth occurs in the lining of the hollow muscular organ that stores urine. In advanced cases, it spreads to muscle tissue (muscle-invasive bladder cancer) or other organs.
Learning you may have bladder cancer can bring uncertainty to your life. But when you come to Memorial Cancer Institute, our highly skilled experts provide reassurance and deliver therapies that bring healing. Our program is home to internationally recognized experts who offer the highest level of care.
Diagnosing Bladder Cancer
Your evaluation starts by discussing symptoms and running a few basic tests. These include checking a urine sample for blood or cancer cells. We may also conduct genetic testing to check for mutations that respond to specific therapies.
Assessments also typically involve a procedure (cystoscopy) that uses a cystoscope. Instruments at the tip make it possible to remove suspicious growths. We examine them under a microscope to confirm or rule out a cancer diagnosis.
Bladder Cancer Treatments and Support
We typically remove early-stage cancers during cystoscopy. No further treatments may be necessary. Localized therapies performed by a urologist, such as intravesical immunotherapy or chemotherapy, remove trace levels of cancer that remain after cystoscopy.
Removing the entire bladder (cystectomy) may be necessary if the cancer spreads past the bladder wall. We use nearby tissue to reconstruct the organ, helping many people maintain bladder control. You may also need chemotherapy.
If you do not wish to have a cystectomy, you may be eligible for treatment with radiation oncology. But this option offers lower success rates than cystectomy.
Supportive Therapies and Services for Bladder Cancer
Our cancer support services ease your mind and body during bladder cancer treatment. We offer integrative medicine practices like acupuncture and therapeutic massage. Services also include help from social workers, spiritual care and emotional support from psychologists.
Bladder Cancer Care: Why Choose Memorial Cancer Institute?
Fellowship-trained urologic oncologists and other specialists with decades of experience guide your care. They specialize in cancers affecting urologic tract organs, like the bladder. Our program is home to respected leaders advancing the field through research. Whether it’s early-stage disease or advanced cancer, we can help you feel better. Meet our team.
Highlights of our program include:
- Multidisciplinary approach: Urologic oncologists work alongside medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, radiologists and pathologists. All our doctors have a special interest in bladder cancer. We meet regularly to discuss your case so that you receive complete care that’s right for your diagnosis.
- Appropriate treatment: Early-stage disease may initially only need to be monitored instead of treated. If the cancer is more advanced, we often use techniques like robotic-assisted surgery that are gentler on your body. Our thoughtful approach gives you the best possible quality of life during and after care.
- Cancer genetics: Our cancer genetics program accurately assesses your risk of bladder cancer. If you have gene changes (mutations) associated with this diagnosis, we perform regular evaluations that can lead to earlier detection and treatment. If you have a bladder cancer diagnosis, we check for mutations that respond to specific therapies.
- Innovation: Our team pioneered using the cystoscope, a vital instrument for assessing and treating noninvasive bladder cancer. It is a thin tube we pass through the urethra (vessel that carries urine out of the body) to access the bladder. We are among the most experienced programs in the country, leading to exceptional safety and outcomes.
- Advanced care: We offer sophisticated procedures not widely available in the region. These treatments include reconstructive procedures that preserve bladder control and chemotherapy we deliver directly to the bladder (intravesical therapy). For cancers that spread to nearby organs, we coordinate with other experts, including surgeons specializing in colorectal cancer and gynecologic cancer.