The methods employed to treat a bladder cancer depend on the stage of a patient’s cancer, their age, overall health, and the results of previous medical exams and procedures.
There are currently four standard methods used to treat disease, all of which can lead to a curative prognosis. Like many cancers, less common methods of treatment, as well as experimental options, are worth considering, especially in advanced cancer cases.
The four standard methods of treatment are as follows:
- Surgery. One of the following surgical procedures is commonly used to treat bladder cancer:
- Transurethral resection: In this procedure, the cancer is scraped off the bladder wall with a small wire loop or it is burned away with high-energy electricity during a cystoscopy.
- Radical cystectomy: In this surgery, the bladder is completely removed to rid the body of cancer. When this is performed, other operations must also be performed to allow the body to continue storing and passing urine.
- Urinary diversion: Usually following a radical cystectomy, this type of surgery is performed to allow the body to store and pass urine in a different way. This commonly involves constructing a new bladder out of an intestinal segment.
- Segmental surgery: In this surgery, part of the bladder is removed to rid the body of cancer. This is usually performed on patients with low-grade tumors. After a period of healing, most patients are able to store and pass urine following segmental surgery.
Radiation therapy utilizes high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells or stop them from proliferating. Typically, the radiation is administered externally, using a machine located outside the body. In advanced cases, however, special devices can be implanted in the body to affect the cancer cells with a more constant flow of radiation.
Chemotherapy is treatment in which certain anti-cancer drugs are administered to kill cancer cells or stop them from proliferating. This treatment has become notorious for its many negative side effects, including nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and hair loss.
Immunotherapy, or biologic therapy, involves the patient’s own immune system in the treatment of cancer. In this treatment, a physician will utilize a number of methods and substances aimed at boosting the human body’s natural ability to fight of disease and infection.
Other Treatment Options
Bladder cancer is considered to be a highly curable disease, making treatment a very standardized affair in most cases. When a cancer is extremely advanced or a patient is not a candidate for the standard treatments listed above, then other treatment options and clinical trials should be seriously considered.
Some other treatment options include:
- Photodynamic therapy uses lasers lights and special drugs to kill cancer cells. The patient is injected with a drug designed to accumulate around cancer cells. The drug remains inactive until it is exposed to light. After the drug has been injected and given time to gather around the abnormal cells, the laser light is administered through special fiber optic tubes to activate the drug. Once active, the drug kills cancer cells.
- Chemoprevention incorporates low doses of anti-cancer drugs, vitamins, and other substances that help reduce a person’s chances of developing a cancer.
As cancer research evolves, so do the treatment options and various clinical trials. A healthy lifestyle, an open mind, extensive research, an uplifting social network, and the seeking of multiple medical opinions are all vital to the proper treatment of bladder cancer.