In its early stages, bladder cancer may not have obvious symptoms. In the later stages, symptoms of bladder cancer may include:
Bloody urine, most often painless, is the most common symptom. The urine color ranges from faintly rusty to deep red, sometimes containing blood clots. Blood traces, invisible to the naked eye, may show up in tests of urine samples.
Frequent urinary tract infections, painful urination, a need to urinate often, and difficulty holding in urine.
Transurethral resection (TUR) with fulguration (in selected patients).
The most common treatments for muscle-invasive bladder cancer are radical cystectomy and radiation therapy. There is no strong evidence from randomized controlled trials to determine whether surgery or radiation therapy is more effective. There is strong evidence that both therapies become more effective when combined with chemotherapy. At the present time, the treatments with the highest level of evidence supporting their effectiveness are radical cystectomy preceded by multiagent cisplatin-based chemotherapy and radiation therapy with concomitant chemotherapy.
Radical cystectomy is a standard treatment option for stage II and stage III bladdercancer, and its effectiveness at prolonging survival increases if it is preceded by cisplatin-based multiagent chemotherapy.[1,2,3,4] Radical cystectomy is accompanied by pelvic lymph node dissection and includes removal of the bladder, perivesical tissues, prostate, and seminal vesicles in men and removal of the uterus, tubes, ovaries, anterior vaginal wall, and urethra in women.[5,6,7,8] Studies of outcomes after radical cystectomy report increased survival in patients who had more, rather than fewer, lymph nodes resected; whether this represents a therapeutic benefit of resecting additional nodes or stage migration is unknown. There are no randomized controlled trials evaluating the therapeutic benefit of lymph node dissection in this setting.
Radical cystectomy is a major operation with a perioperative mortality rate of 2% to 3% when performed at centers of excellence.[6,7,8] Postoperative complications include ileus. Most men have erectile dysfunction after radical cystectomy; sexual dysfunction after this operation is also common in women.[10,11,12]
One study of 27 women who underwent radical cystectomy reported diminished ability to have orgasm in 45%, decreased lubrication in 41%, decreased sexual desire in 37%, and pain with vaginal intercourse in 22%. Fewer than one-half were able to have successful vaginal intercourse and most reported decreased satisfaction with their sexual lives after surgery. Studies suggest that radical cystectomy with preservation of sexual function can be performed in some men. In addition, new forms of urinary diversion can obviate the need for an external urinary appliance.[13,14,15,16]