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Bladder Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Stage I Bladder Cancer Treatment

Standard Treatment Options for Stage I Bladder Cancer

Patients with stage I bladder tumors are unlikely to die from bladder cancer, but the tendency for new tumor formation is high. In a series of patients with Ta or T1 tumors who were followed for a minimum of 20 years or until death, the risk of bladder recurrence after initial resection was 80%.[1] Of greater concern than recurrence is the risk of progression to muscle-invasive, locally-advanced, or metastatic bladder cancer. While progression is rare for low-grade tumors, it is common among high-grade cancers.

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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...

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One series of 125 patients with TaG3 cancers followed for 15 to 20 years reported that 39% progressed to more advanced stage disease, while 26% died of urothelial cancer. In comparison, among 23 patients with TaG1 tumors, none died and only 5% progressed.[2] Risk factors for recurrence and progression include the following:[2,3,4,5,6]

  • High-grade disease.
  • Presence of carcinoma in situ.
  • Tumor larger than 3 cm.
  • Multiple tumors.
  • History of prior bladder cancer.

Standard treatment options for stage I bladder cancer include the following:

  1. Transurethral resection (TUR) with fulguration followed by an immediate postoperative instillation of intravesical chemotherapy.
  2. TUR with fulguration.
  3. TUR with fulguration followed by an immediate postoperative instillation of intravesical chemotherapy followed by periodic intravesical instillations of bascillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG).
  4. TUR with fulguration followed by an immediate postoperative instillation of intravesical chemotherapy followed by intravesical chemotherapy.
  5. Segmental cystectomy (rarely indicated).
  6. Radical cystectomy (in selected patients with extensive or refractory superficial tumors).

TUR with fulguration followed by an immediate postoperative instillation of intravesical chemotherapy

TUR and fulguration are the most common and conservative forms of management. Careful surveillance of subsequent bladder tumor progression is important. Because most bladder cancers recur after TUR, one immediate intravesical instillation of chemotherapy after TUR is widely used. Numerous randomized controlled trials have evaluated this practice, and a meta-analysis of seven trials reported that a single intravesical treatment with chemotherapy reduced the odds of recurrence by 39% (odds ratio [OR], 0.61; P< .0001).[7,8]

TUR with fulguration

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