Conditions & Treatments

You have many bladder cancer treatment options available.

Time is critical if you have bladder cancer. The condition typically is curable when it is diagnosed and treated as early as possible.

In addition, bladder cancer care depends on several factors:

  • If the cancer has spread to other areas of the body (metastasized)
  • The cancer’s grade (high grade or low grade)
  • Whether the tumor is noncancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant)
  • Whether your cancer is only located on the bladder’s surface layers (superficial) or has invaded the muscle (invasive)
  • Your general health and lifestyle

Your bladder cancer treatment plan

Our team of specialists works with each patient and family to develop a comprehensive bladder cancer treatment plan, which may include:

We have experience with all types of treatment, including national expertise in robotic bladder surgery. We’re here to give you the best cancer care possible.

Treatments for superficial bladder cancer

If you receive a diagnosis of bladder cancer early on, before the disease has had a chance to advance too far, bladder cancer treatment may include transurethral resection (TUR) and intravesical immunotherapy.

First, your doctor will use the TUR procedure to scrape or burn off the cancer from the surface layers of the bladder. Next, you’ll receive an injection of immunotherapy medication into your bladder to destroy any remaining cancer cells.

  • TUR: This procedure involves the passage of a thin tool with a wire loop through the urethra and into the bladder. Your doctor can use this instrument, called a resectoscope, to scrape the cancer off the surface layer of your bladder or burn off the cancer with an electrical current.
  • Intravesical immunotherapy: Immunotherapy for bladder cancer aims to use the body’s natural immune system to help target cancer cells. Your doctor can use a catheter to deliver a liquid containing a specific bacterial organism into your bladder. The bacterial organism stimulates your body’s natural immune response to destroy the cancer cells. For patients with superficial bladder cancer, this immunotherapy works in up to one-third of cases. If the first course of treatment fails and the cancer stage stays the same or advances, we recommend surgery as the next step.
  • Intravesical agents: If you’re not able to have immunotherapy medications, or if they don’t work for you, we can use different medications in their place.

Treatments for invasive bladder cancer

If you are diagnosed with invasive bladder cancer, your doctor will probably recommend surgery. After surgery, we often use chemotherapy for patients whose cancer has spread or is at high risk for spreading to the lymph nodes or other areas of the body. If your doctor says you’re at high risk for your bladder cancer spreading, we may recommend chemotherapy before your surgery, as it may improve your chance of a successful outcome.

Radiation therapy and chemotherapy together is one option to try to save your bladder. We recommend this treatment option only for select patients based on certain factors -- research has shown that up to 60 percent of patients will later require surgical removal of the bladder if the cancer returns. You might be a good candidate for radiation therapy and chemotherapy if:

  • You are too ill to have surgery
  • You can tolerate chemotherapy
  • Your bladder cancer is not at an advanced stage

Additional bladder cancer treatment options

There are other options for bladder cancer available. In addition to the intravesical immunotherapy we use for some patients with superficial bladder cancer, our doctors continue to research other forms of immunotherapies, such as antibody therapies and cancer vaccines, as potential options to treat advanced bladder cancer.

Our bladder cancer team provides clinical trial research therapies and participates in ongoing research to continually advance bladder cancer treatments. As our patient, you can benefit from this research and our commitment to be on the front lines of bladder cancer treatment.

Connect with our Cancer Team 24/7

Call us at (888) 777-4167

Clinical Trials

Cancer Institute