Bladder cancer results from the unchecked growth of cancerous cells in the urinary bladder. More than 79,000 new bladder cancer cases are diagnosed in the United States every year, with men accounting for nearly 75 percent of them. There are several types of bladder cancer, whose symptoms and treatments may vary.
At City of Hope, treatment begins with comprehensive screening and diagnostic tools, and centers on our unique “coordinated care pathway” in which our multidisciplinary teams combine the latest research findings with outstanding patient care.
Our bladder cancer team is an integrated group of experts who will focus on providing you optimal care from the moment of diagnosis to active treatment to recovery and survivorship.
If you have been diagnosed with bladder cancer or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, you may request an appointment online or contact us at 800-826-4673. Please visit Making Your First Appointment for more information.
They actually listened to what I wanted from the surgery; they were able to give me options that other hospitals were not able to give me." Christine Crews, bladder cancer survivor
December 21, 2015
Bladder cancer is a disease in which cells in the urinary bladder start growing abnormally and uncontrollably.
The choice of treatment and the long-term outcome for people who have bladder cancer depend on the stage and grade of the cancer.
Most common bladder cancer symptoms are linked with urination changes, including:
Bladder cancer may also cause more generalized symptoms, such as:
Although these symptoms can be caused by other conditions, you should check with a doctor – preferably a urologist – so they can make a definitive diagnosis.
Factors that can elevate risk of bladder cancer include:
Sources: National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society
Though the rate of new bladder cancer diagnoses in men and women have been dropping slightly in recent years, it’s still important to arm yourself with the facts. And so, in honor of Bladder Cancer Awareness Month, here’s everything you need to know about the disease.
Once you notice symptoms, or as part of a routine examination, your doctor may use the following tests to look for bladder cancer:
Blue-Light Cystoscopy with Cysview is an advanced approach for the detection and diagnosis of bladder cancer. Our team is using this enhanced imaging technique to precisely identify and remove cancerous lesions on the bladder.
Used as an adjunct to white-light cystoscopy, Blue-Light Cystoscopy with Cysview is the only Food and Drug Administration-approved technology that:
If cancer is found, additional tests are performed to determine the type and stage of disease.
Based on the results of these tests, the bladder cancer is then staged according to its size, number of lymph nodes affected and whether it has spread to nearby or distant organs. Bladder cancer is also evaluated by “grades” based on how much it resembles normal bladder cells and how aggressive it grows.
After bladder cancer has been diagnosed, tests are done to find out if cancer cells have spread within the bladder or to other parts of the body. There are three ways that cancer spreads in the body: into nearby tissue, into the lymph vessels to other parts of the body and into blood vessels to other parts of the body.
The following stages are used to describe the location and extent of bladder cancer:
There are currently no screening guidelines for bladder cancer, since no screenings have been shown to lower risk of dying from bladder cancer for people of average risk. However, your physician may recommend screening if you are at a high risk of developing bladder cancer, due to:
With bladder cancer, the majority of patients that I see can be cured; the challenge is to get patients the same quality of life that they had before surgery.” Kevin Chan, M.D., head of reconstructive urology at City of Hope
City of Hope offers the latest advances in bladder cancer care. It begins with our comprehensive screening and diagnostic tools, and centers on our unique “coordinated care pathway” in which our multidisciplinary teams combine the latest research findings with outstanding patient care.
Surgery is a common treatment option for most bladder cancer patients, particularly those with early-stage, localized cancer. Different procedures may be chosen based on the individual patient’s diagnosis. City of Hope surgeons are among the most experienced in the country and have excellent success rates using a range of advanced technologies.
We specialize in:
The most effective surgical procedures depend on a cancer’s stage, including how large it is, and whether it has spread to other tissues.
Many patients today who require the removal of the entire bladder are candidates for continent urinary diversion, a type of surgery that involves complete pelvic reconstruction that allows patients to recover normal urinary function.
Depending on the disease, patient’s health, desired outcomes and quality-of-life goals, the surgeon may opt for one of several urinary diversion procedures following a radical cystectomy. Urinary diversions can be done intracorporeally or extracorporeally.
The most common ones include:
City of Hope also has an extensive recovery and follow-up program for postcystectomy patients, aimed at helping them:
Specialists in this program include nurses, rehabilitation therapists, occupational therapists, clinical social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, dieticians and other supportive care medicine experts.
Learn more about bladder cancer surgery
Bladder cancer is a stubborn disease. Malignant cells in the bladder frequently grow back or pop up elsewhere, even if they're removed in their earliest stages. But the City of Hope surgeons and scientists working to eradicate bladder cancer are equally stubborn.
Mary Soto was looking forward to her trip to Maui, where she would celebrate her 60th birthday with her daughter. But a visit with a urologist revealed that Soto had a sizable tumor in her bladder. A biopsy performed a few weeks later confirmed her fears – she had bladder cancer. Read her inspiring story.
Drug therapy may be given to patients to fight bladder cancer cells throughout the body by killing them or stopping their growth and spread. These drugs include:
Drugs may also be prescribed to treat conditions related to bladder cancer or its treatments, such as low blood cell counts, nausea or pain.
In addition to oral and intravenous delivery, bladder cancer patients may also receive anti-cancer drugs intravesically. In intravesical therapy, a catheter is guided through the urethra and into the bladder, allowing for direct drug administration. By directly delivering and confining the drugs within the bladder, its effectiveness may be increased and side effects can be limited.
The drug or drug combination used depends on the type and stage of bladder cancer, previous treatments used, the patient’s health and overall treatment goals. This personalized medicine approach may be further enhanced by molecular or genetic testing of your cancer, which can help identify treatments that are more effective and with fewer side effects.
City of Hope has a wide portfolio of cancer-fighting drugs available in its on-site pharmacy, allowing our medical oncologists to plan and prescribe a drug regimen that can best fight bladder cancer while minimizing side effects.
In addition to standard drug treatments, patients may also be eligible for new, promising drugs through our clinical trials program.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or other forms of radiation to kill cancer cells. It may delivered externally using focused beams of energy, or internally by placing a radiation-emitting substance placed in or near the tumor site.
Depending on the cancer, the patient’s health and desired outcomes, radiation therapy may be offered on its own or in conjunction with surgery and drug therapy. This includes:
City of Hope offers a wide variety of leading-edge radiation therapy options to treat bladder cancer. These include image-guided external radiation systems (such as TomoTherapy or TrueBeam) that combine detailed imaging and radiation delivery technologies, allowing our care team to “sculpt” radiation beams to the tumor site while avoiding nearby healthy tissue. This maximizes radiation’s cancer fighting ability while minimizing exposure to the bladder, rectum and other nearby organs.
Learn more about bladder cancer treatments
In years past, Bladder Cancer Awareness Month has been a sobering reminder of a disease with few treatment options. For patients with metastatic disease (disease that has spread from the bladder to distant organs), average survival is typically just over one year.
City of Hope’s renowned physicians and researchers utilize the latest in technology and innovation to treat bladder cancer, coupled with our enduring belief in providing unparalleled compassionate care from the moment of diagnosis to active treatment to recovery and survivorship.
At City of Hope, bladder cancer clinicians and researchers collaborate extensively to develop and evaluate new therapies for better survival and quality-of-life outcomes. Our patients have access to a wide variety of clinical trials including new chemotherapy and targeted therapies, hormone therapies with fewer side effects, novel surgical techniques, innovative radiation approaches and new prevention strategies.
These trials give current patients access to promising, leading-edge therapies and improve overall care for future patients worldwide. Visit our clinical trials page to learn more about current studies and their eligibility criteria.
Some of our current research projects include:
Learn more about bladder cancer research
Shorter hospital stays and reduced readmission rates – those are the goals for bladder cancer patients at City of Hope in 2016. Uniquely coordinated care will make that possible.
I can be normal and live a normal life,” Sheldon Querido, bladder cancer survivor
When you come to City of Hope, you automatically gain access to an unparalleled array of support services to help you and your loved ones take each step during and after your bladder cancer treatment.
We can help with all of the following concerns, and more:
For more information about the supportive care programs we offer, please contact the Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center at 626-218-2273 (CARE).
Hopeful.org is an online community,
a space for everyone who has been touched by cancer to make connections, share their stories, offer support and seek advice.
It features new stories weekly on everything from recipes to news about immunotherapy and other groundbreaking treatments. No one should have to go through cancer alone, and Hopeful ensures that every person will have a supportive community to lean on.
To connect with fellow bladder cancer fighters, caregivers and supporters alike, join our Community of the Hopeful today.
Just a little over a month after bladder cancer surgery, Christine was back at the gym teaching fitness classes and settling back into her presurgery life.