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Bladder Cancer Treatments

Bladder cancer treatment is performed to cure the disease caused by tumor formation in the inner lining of the bladder wall.

Bladder cancer is a prevalent and potentially life-threatening disease that affects thousands of individuals each year. While a diagnosis can be daunting, it’s essential to understand that there are various effective treatment options available.

It is important to understand what the disease is before getting information about treatment options. Bladder cancer usually begins in the cells lining the bladder’s interior. It can manifest in different forms, with the most common being urothelial carcinoma, also known as transitional cell carcinoma. The key risk factors include smoking, exposure to certain chemicals, age, and a family history of the disease.


Early Stages of Bladder Cancer


Bladder cancer is categorized into different stages to help healthcare professionals determine the extent of the disease and formulate an appropriate treatment plan. These stages are mostly assessed using a combination of diagnostic tools, such as imaging, biopsies, and surgical procedures. Understanding the stages of bladder cancer is vital, as it guides both patients and healthcare providers in making informed decisions about treatment and prognosis.

Stage 0, also known as Carcinoma in Situ (CIS), is the earliest stage of bladder cancer. At this point, the cancer is limited to the innermost layer of the bladder lining, called the urothelium. CIS is often non-invasive, meaning it has not penetrated the bladder’s deeper layers. However, it is considered a high-grade and aggressive form of bladder cancer, necessitating prompt treatment.

In stage I, the cancer has moved beyond the urothelium but is still confined to the innermost layer of the bladder wall, known as the lamina propria. It has not reached the muscle layer of the bladder. This stage is classified as non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC). The key treatment for Stage I bladder cancer generally involves transurethral resection of bladder tumor (TURBT) to remove the tumor.

Stage II marks the progression of bladder cancer into the muscle layer of the bladder wall. Muscle-invasive bladder cancer (MIBC) is more aggressive and poses a higher risk of spreading beyond the bladder. Treatment options at this stage may include more extensive surgery, such as radical cystectomy (removal of the entire bladder), along with chemotherapy or radiation therapy.


Advanced Stages of Bladder Cancer


Bladder cancer that has advanced to Stage III has moved beyond the muscle layer and infiltrated the fatty tissue surrounding the bladder. It may also affect nearby structures, such as the prostate (in men) or the uterus (in women). At this point, the cancer is considered locally advanced. Treatment often involves a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy to target the tumor and any affected adjacent tissues.

Stage IV is the most advanced stage of bladder cancer, indicating that the cancer has metastasized, or spread, to distant organs or lymph nodes. Common sites of metastasis include the lungs, bones, and liver. Metastatic bladder cancer is challenging to treat and is associated with a poorer prognosis. Treatment options may include systemic chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, and palliative care to manage symptoms and improve the patient’s quality of life.


Bladder Cancer Treatment Options


Bladder cancer treatment may differ according to the intensity of the disease and the stage at which it is diagnosed. Treatment planning is done by a surgeon specialized in this field. One or more of the following approaches can be applied to the patient:


  • Transurethral resection (TURBT surgery)
  • Radical cystectomy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiotherapy
  • Immunotherapy


Detailed Explanation of Treatments in Bladder Cancer


Transurethral resection of bladder tumor (TURBT) is a common procedure for non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC). During TURBT, a thin, flexible tube with a camera and surgical instruments is passed through the urethra to remove tumors and abnormal tissue. It is mostly an outpatient procedure.

For muscle-invasive bladder cancer (MIBC) or advanced cases, a radical cystectomy may be necessary. In this extensive surgery, the entire bladder and nearby lymph nodes may be removed. In men, the prostate is often removed, and in women, the uterus and part of the vagina may be excised. After a radical cystectomy, urinary diversion procedures are performed to create a new way for urine to exit the body, typically through an external bag (urostomy) or an internal reservoir (neobladder).

Systemic chemotherapy involves the administration of anti-cancer drugs via the bloodstream. This approach is often used before or after surgery to shrink tumors, prevent recurrence, or treat metastatic bladder cancer. Common drugs used include cisplatin, gemcitabine, and paclitaxel.

Radiation therapy utilizes high-energy X-rays to target and destroy cancer cells. It can be applied externally or internally (brachytherapy). This practice is often used in combination with surgery or as an alternative when surgery is not feasible. It's more commonly employed for patients who cannot undergo a radical cystectomy due to medical conditions or personal choice.


Recent Studies in Bladder Cancer Treatment


There is another treatment approach that is still being studied. Immune checkpoint inhibitors, such as pembrolizumab and atezolizumab, are a breakthrough in the treatment of advanced bladder cancer. They work by enhancing the body's immune response to attack cancer cells. This approach is particularly effective in patients with metastatic bladder cancer who have not responded well to traditional chemotherapy. It may not be suitable for every patient. Certain tests are required for suitability.

Health International offers its patients a reliable treatment opportunity. You can reach us to learn all the information about the procedure from A to Z in detail and to make an appointment.

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