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Bladder Cancer - Treatment Overview

The choice of treatment and the long-term outcome (prognosis) for people who have bladder cancer depend on the stage and grade of cancer. When deciding about your treatment, your doctor also considers your age, overall health, and quality of life.

Bladder cancer has a better chance of being treated successfully if it is found early.

Recommended Related to Bladder Cancer

Understanding Bladder Cancer -- the Basics

The bladder is a pouch in the urinary tract that stores urine after it is produced by the kidneys. The bladder is lined with specialized cells called transitional cells. Bladder cancer often arises from these transitional cells. The cancer spreads by penetrating bladder muscle, infiltrating surrounding fat and tissue, and -- if untreated -- spreads to lymph nodes and other organs, such as the liver, lungs, or bones. The earlier the cancer is diagnosed, the more limited it will likely be and...

Read the Understanding Bladder Cancer -- the Basics article > >

Treatment choices for bladder cancer may include:

  • Surgery to remove the cancer. Surgery, either alone or along with other treatments, is used in most cases.
  • Chemotherapy to destroy cancer cells using medicines. Chemotherapy may be given before or after surgery.
  • Radiation therapy to destroy cancer cells using high-dose X-rays or other high-energy rays. Radiation therapy may also be given before or after surgery and may be given at the same time as chemotherapy. For more information, see Other Treatment.
  • ImmunotherapyImmunotherapy. This treatment causes your body's natural defenses, known as your immune system, to attack bladder cancer cells. For more information, see Medications.

Stages and grades of bladder cancer

There are five stages of bladder cancer, stages 0 to IV:2

  • Stage 0: Cancer cells are only on the surface of the inner layer of the bladder. This may be called carcinoma in situ.
  • Stage I: Cancer has grown deeper into the inner layer but not into the muscle layer.
  • Stage II: Cancer has grown into the muscle layer of the bladder.
  • Stage III: Cancer has grown through the muscle layer and into nearby organs, such as the prostate, uterus, or vagina.
  • Stage IV: Cancer has grown into the wall of the pelvis or the belly but not into any lymph nodes. Or the cancer has spread into at least one lymph node or to another part of the body, such as the liver, lungs, or bones.

The grade of bladder cancer is usually either low-grade (LG) or high-grade (HG). High-grade tumors tend to grow faster. They are also more likely to spread than low-grade tumors. When your doctor knows the grade of your cancer, this information will help him or her choose the best treatment plan for you.

More information about bladder cancer is provided by the National Cancer Institute at www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/bladder.

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