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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 -- Diagnosis and Treatment

To diagnose bladder cancer, your doctor completes a thorough medical history and examination. You will then be referred to a urologist, a physician who has special training in managing diseases of the bladder. The first test the urologist may perform is an intravenous pyelogram (IVP), followed by a cystoscopy. During a cystoscopy, the urologist will pass a cystoscope (a fiber-optic lighted tube) through the urethra in order to view the bladder. A urine sample for cytology will be obtained and a...

Read the Understanding Bladder Cancer -- Diagnosis and Treatment 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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