About Bladder Cancer

If you’ve been diagnosed with bladder cancer, we know that it is scary. However, with the right urologist and the right treatment, the cancer can often be managed. We believe you’ve come to the right place for your care.

 

Bladder cancer is most common in men age 60-70 and in those who smoke; however, anyone – regardless of gender or lifestyle choices – can be diagnosed with bladder cancer at any time.

It’s our philosophy not to focus on how you got the cancer
but rather how we can help you get rid of it.

Understand your bladder cancer

It’s most common for people to experience one of these three classifications of bladder cancer.

  1. Superficial low-grade disease 


 

  • The tumor isn’t deep into the bladder and is developing slowly. 

  • Treatment is relatively noninvasive; the small lesions get scraped out of the bladder.

    • Urologist uses instruments that enter through the urethra.

    • No incisions are needed.

    • Patients typically see a great recovery.

  • Some studies find the specific survival rate with superficial low-grade cancer to be 100%; however cancerous lesions do have about a 30% chance of recurring. 

  • The chance of lesion recurrence typically decreases if mitomycin chemotherapy is used in the bladder during tumor removal and routine cystoscopy (looking in the bladder) is done periodically.

This guide from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) that suggests how often patients with superficial bladder cancer should have follow-up surveillance. Click to open the NCCN guide.

  2. Invasive bladder cancer

  • More serious than superficial low-grade bladder cancer. 

  • Patients with invasive bladder cancer have a tumor that invades the lining or wall of their bladder, which means the tumor has gone into the muscle of the bladder. 

  • The technical term for this stage of cancer is T2; however the stage may change with additional scans or surgery. Other stages include:

    • T3 bladder cancer, which means the tumor is invading the fat around the bladder

    • T4 which means the tumor has invaded a nearby organ

  • Being diagnosed with T2 stage bladder cancer should be taken very seriously.

    • The best survival rate is seen in patients who have their tumor aggressively scraped out followed by chemotherapy, and eventually have their bladder removed.

      • By maximizing the scraping of the tumor internally and receiving chemotherapy before the
        bladder is removed, the survival of invasive bladder cancer is increase by 6-10%.

      • Chemotherapy is generally given over a 6- to 12-week period and consists of two-to-four
        intravenous (IV) drugs in three-to-four cycles. This aggressive treatment approach yields
        an average survival rate of above 80%.

      • In some cases, survival rate can be up to 90% in patients who have their bladder removed
        and have very little tumor remaining.

    • Patients who do not have their bladder removed have an average survival of 1-2 years and experience
      a slow and painful death. 

    • The same is true for patients who cannot tolerate bladder removal surgery and instead receive
      chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

      • Patients who receive only chemotherapy without bladder removal have a 70% chance of
        experiencing a tumor reoccurrence often in the liver, bones, lungs, or brain. For this reason
        we do not recommend that approach.

 3. Non-muscle invasive (NMI) bladder cancer

  • Falls in between the first two classifications discussed above. 

  • Patients with NMI bladder cancer don’t have the non-aggressive low-grade superficial lesions or invasive disease that requires bladder removal.

  • Instead, they have high-grade tumors that invade just under the surface of the bladder and are categorized as stage T1.

  • All patients with NMI bladder cancer should have a CT scan at the time of diagnosis and additionally should have the tumor resected twice to ensure the correct diagnosis.

  • Patients with high-grade stage T1 cancer should be treated with Bacille Calmette Guerin (BCG).

    • When instilled into the bladder, BCG elicits an immune response that makes it less likely for a bladder
      cancer recurrence. 

    • Typical recurrence rate for NMI tumors is about a 50-70%. Because BCG can reduce recurrence, it’s
      an important treatment step toward recovery.