How Do You Treat Bladder Cancer?
Depending on the type, grade and stage, there are several different ways you can treat bladder cancer. Additionally, one’s overall health and treatment preferences play a large role in what the preferred approach is. Second opinions, visiting specialists including oncologists are all important parts of the process. Dr. Shaw and the Austin Urology Institute can recommend a combination of treatments.
Bladder Cancer Treatment May Include:
- TURBT with chemotherapy in the bladder: A transurethral resection of the bladder tissue (TURBT) is a surgical procedure to remove cancerous tissue on the inner layers of the bladder. It is performed in a hospital or surgical center setting under general anesthesia. The surgeon accesses the bladder through the urethra (just like the cystoscopy done in the office) and no incision is made. Typically, once the cancerous tissue is removed, a chemotherapy medication is washed through the bladder prior to completing the surgery. This medication also helps to rid the bladder of any cancer cells. Oftentimes, you go home the day of the surgery.
- Intravesical immunotherapy: Immunotherapy works by triggering the body’s immune system to help fight cancer cells. This is often used in conjunction with surgery and doesn’t tend to be a primary bladder cancer treatment. A catheter is inserted into the bladder through the urethra and medication is inserted. While anyone who’s had experience with a catheter will tell you, it’s no picnic. But neither are the bladder cancer symptoms that you are ridding yourself of. Typically, a few weeks after surgery, short weekly appointments at your local Texas Urologist will be made where an immunotherapy medication is administered. Immunotherapy drugs commonly used to treat bladder cancer are Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) or a synthetic version of interferon Interferon alfa-2B or intron A.
- Systemic/IV chemotherapy: Sometimes, IV chemotherapy medications are needed to kill cancer cells. It usually involves using drugs in combination and is often used to increase the chance for a cure if having surgery to remove the bladder or as the only treatment in cases where surgery isn’t an option.
- Radiation therapy: It is used to destroy cancer cells. It is often used as a primary bladder cancer treatment in cases where surgery isn’t an option or isn’t desired. However, we always like to remind people of our minimally invasive da Vinci surgery procedure, which AUI’s very own Texas Urological Surgeon Dr. Shaw is extremely renowned for. In regards to radiation therapy, the procedure involves high-energy beams precisely aimed to destroy cancer cells in the bladder. It is delivered from a machine that moves around your body, directing the energy beams to targets with cutthroat precision.
- Systemic/IV immunotherapy: Atezolizumab (Tecentriq) is an IV immunotherapy medication often used for locally advanced or metastatic bladder cancer that didn’t respond to or got worse after chemotherapy. It is also being studied as a first line therapy treatment for those who aren’t eligible for chemotherapy.
- Cystectomy: This is a surgery to remove all or part of the bladder. This is an involved procedure and if the bladder is fully removed the surgery may also include the reconstruction of a neobladder, ileal conduit or continent urinary reservoir.
If you’re interested in learning more about bladder cancer treatment or want to hear what Dr. Shaw and the Austin Urology Institute can offer for you, visit our website. You shouldn’t have to deal with the pain of bladder cancer symptoms alone. We’ll be by your side every step of the way.