Bladder Cancer

A cancer diagnosis is always life-changing, but the good news about bladder cancer is that it’s common and treatable, with many innovative techniques.

We can do this. Together.

Bladder Cancer Basics

A cancer diagnosis is always life-changing, but the good news about bladder cancer is that it's common and treatable, with many innovative techniques. The better news is that you have the depth and breadth of INTEGRIS and the INTEGRIS Cancer Institute behind you, with the region's foremost collection of therapies, physicians and specialists.

We're here for you every step of the way, from the first diagnosis and staging to treatment and even beyond – with rehabilitation designed specifically for cancer survivors. We know this can be a challenging time, so please ask your physician about any concerns or questions you might have.

Understanding Bladder Cancer

Early attention to symptoms is the best way to find and treat bladder cancer. The earlier bladder cancer is found, the easier it is to treat — and the better your chance of being cured. These are some of the early symptoms of bladder cancer.

  • Blood in your urine that may be pink or deep red, depending on the amount or may appear in clots
  • Change in urinary habits such as urinating more often than normal, feeling an urgent need to urinate, having trouble urinating, feeling burning, discomfort, or pain, or a weak stream of urine.

If you have symptoms that indicate potential bladder cancer, your doctor will perform certain exams and tests to be sure. Diagnosing bladder cancer starts with a complete medical history and physical examination, which may include a rectal or vaginal exam to check for the presence of tumors large enough to be felt. You may also have one or more of the following diagnostic tests:

  • Urinalysis and Urine Culture: Your urine is collected and tested in a lab for blood, certain chemical levels, and signs of infection. The urine is then cultured to see if organisms, such as bacteria, grow.
  • Urine Cytology Test: For this test, your doctor looks at your urine in a lab under a microscope and checks the cells to see if any of them look like they’re cancerous or precancerous.
  • Bladder Tumor Marker Tests: These tests are used to look for markers or substances released by bladder cancer cells into your urine.
  • Cystoscopy: This procedure lets your doctor look at the inside of your bladder by sliding a thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera lens and light in it (cystoscope) through your urethra into your bladder. If your doctor sees anything that looks like cancer, a small piece of the tissue may be taken out, or biopsied, for testing.
  • Bladder Biopsy: A procedure in which tissue samples are removed, usually during a cystoscopy, for examination under a microscope to determine if cancer or other abnormal cells are present.
  • Intravenous Pyelogram (IVP): In this test, a contrast dye is injected into a vein in your arm or hand. As the dye moves through and outlines your kidney, ureters, and bladder, your doctor takes a series of x-rays to find tumors, abnormalities, kidney stones, or any blockages.

The INTEGRIS Cancer Institute's Multidisciplinary urology clinic brings together physicians including medical oncologists, urologists, radiation oncologists and radiologists to provide specialized care in a multidisciplinary environment.

Your treatment plan will be based on a variety of factors such as age, overall health, medical history and the stage of the disease. Several types of treatment may be used for bladder cancer. Sometimes more than one of these treatments may be used. Getting two or more treatments is called combination treatment and may include:

  • Surgery: Surgery is a common treatment for bladder cancer. In some cases, the surgeon removes only the tumor, or tumors. Other times, part of the bladder or the whole bladder may be removed. Sometimes surgery cures the cancer.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses strong medicines to kill cancer cells and is often used when bladder cancer has spread to other parts of your body. It may be delivered internally, directly into your bladder (intravesically), or injected into your bloodstream to kill cancer cells throughout your body.
  • Intravesical Therapy: This treatment is used to treat early-stage, superficial bladder cancer. During intravesical therapy, medicines are put directly into your bladder. This may be immunotherapy medicines, which make your body’s immune system fight the cancer, or chemotherapy medicines.
  • Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to kill or shrink cancer cells. Internal radiation or external radiation, or both, may be used to treat bladder cancer. Radiation can be given alone or with chemotherapy, which can cure some people and leave them with a bladder that still works.
  • Internal Radiation (brachytherapy, implant radiation): A radiation implant is placed into your bladder for a direct effect on cancer cells.
  • External Radiation: A machine directs high levels of radiation are directly to the bladder cancer from outside the body.

At INTEGRIS, we offer a wide variety of support programs and services along with the Troy and Dollie Smith Wellness Center to help patients with breast cancer and their loved ones manage the physical and emotional effects of a cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Support services for bladder cancer include:

  • Mind, body therapies including acupuncture, massage, and yoga
  • Research and clinical trials
  • Nutrition consultations
  • Pastoral care, spiritual support and relaxation techniques
  • Resource Room
  • Clinical social work services
  • Counseling
  • Patient navigation and survivor care planning
  • Multi-disciplinary clinic coordination
  • Cancer screenings
  • Patient and family support groups

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Urology

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

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