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Last Updated: Jan 10, 2023

Bladder Cancer and How It Can Be Treated

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Dr. Abhinav AgarwalUrologist • 20 Years Exp.MBBS, M.S. (General Surgery), MBA (Healthcare), M.Ch - Urology/Genito-Urinary Surgery
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Bladder cancer refers to a  cancer, which arises from the epithelial lining or the urothelium of the urinary bladder. In the most common form of bladder cancer, the normal histology of the urothelium is recapitulated. It is called transitional cell carcinoma. Bladder cancer is a serious form of cancer that leads to many deaths too.

There are several modes of treatment for bladder cancer. They are:

1. Bladder cancer surgery: Surgeries are common for treating bladder cancer. 

2. Transurethral resection of bladder tumor or TURBT: This mode is used for determining the presence of bladder cancer and to find out if it has invaded the bladder wall muscle layer. This treatment mode is generally used in the early stages of bladder cancer.

3. Cystectomy: A cystectomy is undertaken when bladder cancer is very invasive and parts of the bladder or the whole of it has to be removed. There are two types of cystectomy.

  • Partial cystectomy is used when the cancer invades the bladder muscle layer in a small area. It can be removed without the whole bladder being taken out.
  • A Radical cystectomy is undertaken in case the cancer affects a large area and is present in multiple areas of the bladder. This surgery removes the bladder entirely and all its nearby lymph nodes.

4. Intravesical therapy: In intravesical therapy, a liquid drug is put directly into the bladder via a catheter instead of injecting it or consuming it orally. The cells lining the bladder are affected without causing any harm to other body parts. This therapy is usually used after TURBT in non-invasive cases of bladder cancer to prevent recurrence.

5. Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is an effective treatment for bladder cancer. Chemotherapy may be used in two ways:

  • Intravesical chemotherapy, where the chemo drug is put directly into the bladder and is applicable only for early treatment stages.
  • Systematic chemotherapy, which involves the injection of chemo drugs into the vein or muscle and can also be administered in the form of pills. The drug reaches all parts of the body via the bloodstream and affects all cancer cells.

6. Radiation therapy: This treatment procedure for bladder cancer involves the use of high energy radiation for killing cancer cells. It is used in early phases of treatment and is the primary remedy for people who cannot have a surgery. It is combined with chemotherapy to make the radiation effective. The most common type of radiation therapy for treating bladder cancer is called external-beam radiation therapy where radiation occurs from an outside source.

Bladder cancer is a severe form of cancer. Proper and ideal treatment is required among the several treatment methods available.

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