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
If you have been recently diagnosed with bladder cancer, talk to the experts at City of Hope. 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.
After consulting with you about your concerns and desired goals, we will design a personalized treatment plan to give you the best possible outcome.
Request a Consultation
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 (HOPE). Please visit Making Your First Appointment for more information.
City of Hope has been named a best hospital for urology and cancer by U.S. News & World Report, and a National Cancer Institute comprehensive cancer center, the highest designation that recognizes our commitment to cancer treatment, research and education.
As a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, our doctors also help develop and improve evidence-based bladder cancer treatment guidelines for patients throughout the country.
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Bladder cancer is a disease in which cells in the urinary bladder start growing abnormally and uncontrollably.
About 90 percent of bladder cancers are transitional cell carcinomas (also known as urothelial carcinomas), which begins in the cells that line the inside of the bladder.
Rarer bladder cancers include squamous cell carcinomas (originating from flat-shaped cells), adenocarcinomas (from mucus-secreting gland cells), small cell carcinoma (from nerve-like neuroendocrine cells) and sarcomas (from the bladder’s muscle cells).
Factors that can elevate risk of bladder cancer include:
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.
Sources: National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society
Once you notice symptoms, or as part of a routine examination, your doctor may use the following tests to look for bladder cancer:
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.
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
Your bladder cancer is every bit as unique as you are, and that is why treatment at City of Hope is focused around you and your loved ones.
This means our physicians will personally consult with you about your disease, treatment options and desired outcomes. Afterward, our multidisciplinary team of specialists will work together to discuss, design and deliver an individual treatment plan to best meet those goals.
The innovative treatments we use to treat bladder cancer include surgery, drug therapy and radiation therapy.
Surgery is a common treatment option for most bladder cancer patients, particularly those with early-stage, localized cancer.
Depending on size, stage, grade and location of the tumor, surgeries performed include:
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 is a nationwide leader in bladder cancer surgery, specializing in minimally invasive robotic procedures with advanced urinary diversion techniques. Our team has done over 500 robotic cystectomies over the past decade.
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.
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:
Radiation may also be used to relieve symptoms associated with bladder cancer.
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.
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.
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:
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).