Bladder Cancer Clinical Trials
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It’s normal to have questions about bladder cancer. We are here to make sure you have the answers you need at every stage of your journey, from diagnosis and the development of your treatment plan through survivorship.
Below, we have provided answers to some of the most common questions we hear from patients like you. If you have additional questions, our team is always ready to help. We’re available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer your questions. Call us at (888) 777-4167.
Bladder Cancer Basics
Bladder Cancer Symptoms and Diagnosis
Bladder Cancer Treatment
The risk factors for bladder cancer include:
People who have the highest risk for bladder cancer include:
Bladder cancer is more common in males than in females. The disease is the fourth most common cancer in men. It is estimated that in 2019 there will be 61,700 new cases of bladder in men and 18,770 new cases in women.
Having a family history of bladder cancer increases the risk of the disease by 5-10 percent.
Caucasians are about two times as likely to develop bladder cancer when compared to African Americans and Hispanics. Asian Americans and American Indians develop bladder cancer at slightly lower rates.
Inherited gene mutations may increase the risk of bladder cancer in a small percentage of people. Also, certain people may inherit the inability to get rid of toxins from tobacco and industrial chemicals that may cause bladder disease.
Certain factors are linked to bladder cancer. It is unknown if they actually cause bladder cancer.
It is unknown if bladder infections, kidney stones, or bladder stones actually cause bladder cancer. However, they have been linked to bladder cancer.
These are the symptoms of bladder cancer. They may be similar to symptoms of urinary tract infections.
Urine can have an orange, pink, or even dark red color when bladder cancer is present. In other cases, the color of urine may be normal. Even a small amount of blood in the urine may be detected by a urine test.
Often bladder cancer is found when a person complains of certain symptoms or has lab tests done for other reason. More tests can confirm the disease. Doing a physical exam provides additional information. Sometimes doctors can feel a bladder tumor during a man’s rectal exam, or a woman’s pelvic exam.
First, doctors will rule out a urinary tract infection. Then other tests may be done.
Bladder cancer is diagnosed by a pathologist who studies biopsies and lab tests. This doctor determines the stage of cancer, if the cancer is invasive or non-invasive, and if the disease is a low-grade cancer or high-grade cancer.
The stage of bladder cancer is commonly determined by the:
The stage of bladder cancer is determined through biopsies and tests that indicate the amount of cancer and where it has spread. The tests may include:
Bladder cancer stages:
|Stage||Cancer in the:|
||(Pre-cancer or abnormal cells) Surface layer of the bladder|
|1||Inner lining of the bladder|
|2||Connective tissue on the bladder wall|
|3||Bladder’s exterior fat, reproductive organs, or nearby lymph nodes|
|4||Abdomen, pelvis, lymph nodes above pelvis, lung, bone, or liver|
Bladder cancer can spread to the outside of the bladder, the reproductive organs, lymph nodes, abdomen, pelvis, lung, bone, or liver.
Superficial bladder cancer is a disease that starts in the inside lining of the bladder. It has not spread to the bladder’s muscles. It is sometimes called non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer.
Muscle invasive bladder cancer is a cancer that has spread passed the lining of the bladder into the bladder’s muscle.
Muscle invasive bladder cancer (MIBC) is an advanced cancer that has spread beyond the bladder’s lining and into the thick muscle deep inside the bladder wall. Nearly one in four people with bladder cancer have this disease.
Diagnosis of muscle invasive bladder cancer involves:
Possible treatments for superficial bladder cancer:
Not all patients have surgery for bladder cancer. The decision depends on a person’s age, health conditions, stage of cancer, and other factors. The most common surgery – a transurethral resection (TUR) – involves removing only abnormal tissue or tumors. A cystectomy involves removing all or part of the bladder.
Intravesical therapy is a procedure that involves inserting anti-cancer medication into the bladder by using a catheter. The medicine remains in the bladder for about two hours. This procedure kills cancerous cells and reduces the effect of the anti-cancer medication on other parts of the body.
After outpatient surgery for a transurethral resection of the bladder, expect to have a catheter and possibly blood in the urine for a few days. Drink eight glasses of water daily. No heavy lifting for three weeks. Short walks are OK. Ask the doctor about driving and returning to work.
After a transurethral resection for superficial bladder cancer, the doctor may recommend chemotherapy or immunotherapy treatments.
Muscle invasive bladder cancer is often treated by bladder removal. Chemotherapy may be recommended before or after surgery if cancer has spread or is at a high risk for spreading to the lymph nodes or other areas of the body. For certain patients, radiation combined with chemotherapy is an option.
In rare cases, patients may undergo a partial bladder removal. Depending on the progression of the disease, the bladder may be preserved by treating muscle invasive bladder cancer with a combination of radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Candidates for this treatment include patients who can tolerate chemotherapy, but cannot tolerate surgery.
A radical cystectomy in a male involves making an incision in the abdomen and removing the whole bladder and some nearby lymph nodes. Also, the prostate and seminal vesicles are removed. Robotic bladder surgery may be done to reduce recovery time and complications, and spare nerves to preserve sexual function.
A radical cystectomy in a female involves making an incision in the abdomen and removing the entire bladder and nearby lymph nodes. In addition, the ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, cervix, and part of the vagina are removed. To reduce recovery time and complications, robotic surgery may be performed.
After a cystectomy, expect some pain and swelling around the stoma (opening) in the belly for two or three weeks. It is normal to have blood in the urine for three weeks. Work and usual activities may begin in about four to six weeks. Full recovery may take eight weeks.
Surgeons enable urine to leave the body by using a piece of intestine to make:
An ileal conduit is a passageway made from a piece of intestine. Urine moves from the kidneys through the ureters and into the conduit. The conduit is connected to an opening in the belly. A small bag sticks to the belly and collects urine. The bag is emptied when full.
Continent diversion involves a pouch made from a piece of intestine. The pouch is attached to the tubes (ureters) that carry urine from the kidneys. The pouch with urine remains inside of the body. It is emptied by putting a catheter into a valve in the stoma (opening) in the belly.
A neobladder is a new bladder made from a piece of intestine. Urine moves from the kidneys to the ureters and into the neobladder. When it is full, the sensation is similar to eating a large meal. Urine is released by pressing the belly and bearing down, or pushing down.
A Foley catheter is a thin, soft tube inserted through the urethra and into the bladder to drain urine. The tube has two channels. One channel drains urine into a collection bag. The other channel has a little balloon on its tip. The water-filled balloon prevents slippage from the bladder.
Taking care of a Foley catheter requires a little time before it feels like a routine:
Follow-up care after treating muscle invasive cancer include:
In the early stage of bladder cancer, chemotherapy drugs may be inserted into the bladder. Chemotherapy pills, muscle injections, or intravenous injections may be used:
Radiation therapy is used for bladder cancer at different times and stages:
Treatment for bladder cancer may affect the quality of life and cause:
The healthcare team — including urologists and gynecologists — can suggest ways to improve the quality of life after bladder cancer. Also, support groups and advocacy networks are available to patients and their family members.
||Estimated survival for at least 5 years after diagnosis|
|Carcinoma in situ: Abnormal cells may become cancer cells.||95%|
|Localized: Cancer identified only in the bladder.||69%|
|Regional: Cancer spread to lymph nodes and nearby structures.||35%|
|Distant: Cancer spread to lungs, liver, bones, or other areas.||5%
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