Alternate Names : Cancer of the Bladder
What are the treatments for the disease?
The main treatment for bladder cancer is surgery to remove as much of the cancer as possible. Removing the entire bladder is not always necessary.
Certain chemotherapy medicines can be instilled into the bladder. In some cases, a biological response modifier, such as Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG), can also be instilled into the bladder. The entire surface of the bladder will be treated. Any remaining cancers will be bathed in the medicines. Often this treatment is successful and no further surgery is necessary.
Sometimes the entire bladder must be removed. When this happens, urine will be diverted to an external collection pouch in a procedure known as a urostomy. If the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, then chemotherapy or radiation therapy may be used. Advanced bladder cancer is not usually curable.
What are the side effects of the treatments?
Surgery to remove superficial tumors followed by instillation of medicines can be uncomfortable. The person will be tired. The discomfort will resolve when the treatments are completed. Other side effects can be easily managed and will be specific to the medicines used. If the bladder is removed, the person will need to adjust to the appliance. With support and understanding, the person can return to a normal life. For persons with advanced disease, the chemotherapy may be rigorous but the side effects are manageable.
What happens after treatment for the disease?
A person who has early stage bladder cancer will have the inside of the bladder examined at intervals, along with urine testing. Over time, the frequency of exams will decrease if the cancer does not return. People with advanced cancer will be followed with CT scans and other X-rays to determine the response of the cancer to the treatment.
How is the disease monitored?
In the early stages, examining the inside of the bladder is the most effective way to monitor response. Urine samples can indicate if cancer cells have shed. For later stage disease, diagnostic studies such as X-rays are the most helpful. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.