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Bladder Cancer (cont.)

Surgery

Surgery is used to treat most stages of bladder cancer.

  • Transurethral resection (TUR) is surgery done through the urethra. A thin, lighted tube called a cystoscope is used to remove or destroy tumors in the bladder.
  • Cystectomy is surgery to remove the bladder.
    • Partial cystectomy removes only part of the bladder. It is used to treat cancer that has invaded the bladder wall in just one area.
    • Radical cystectomy removes all of the bladder as well as nearby lymph nodes, part of the urethra, and nearby organs that may contain cancer cells.
  • Urinary diversion is surgery that makes a new way for your body to store urine. This can be done with a pouch created inside your body from part of your intestines, called a continent reservoir. Or the surgeon may make an artificial opening, called an ileal conduit, and you will wear a flat bag to store urine outside your body.

The side effects of surgery may include:

  • Bowel problems, such as constipation or diarrhea.
  • Scar tissue that forms inside your body from having surgery (adhesions).
  • A blockage in the intestines (bowel obstruction).
  • In men, erection problems if the bladder was removed.

Other Treatment

Radiation treatment

Radiation treatment for bladder cancer uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. It may be given after surgery. It may be used along with chemotherapy. Sometimes it is used instead of surgery or chemotherapy.

  • External beam radiation comes from a machine outside the body. The machine aims radiation at the area where the cancer cells are found.
  • Internal radiation uses needles, seeds, wires, or catheters that contain radioactive materials placed close to or directly into the bladder.

Which treatment you receive will depend on the type and stage of your cancer.

Side effects of radiation may include:

  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  • Pain or discomfort when you urinate.
  • An increased risk for infection.
  • In women, changes to the cells lining the vagina. These changes can make intercourse difficult or painful.
  • In men, erection problems if the nerves that control erection were affected by radiation.

Clinical trials

Your doctor may talk to you about joining a research study called a clinical trial if one is available in your area. Clinical trials are research studies to look for ways to improve treatments for bladder cancer. Experts are doing studies on:

  • Chemoprevention for early-stage bladder cancer. This is the use of medicines or vitamins to reduce the risk of getting cancer or having cancer come back.
  • Photodynamic therapy. This uses medicine and a special light to treat the cancer.

For some people with bladder cancer, clinical trials may offer the best treatment available.

Complementary therapies

People sometimes use complementary therapies along with medical treatment to help relieve symptoms and side effects of cancer treatments. Some of the complementary therapies that may be helpful include:

These mind-body treatments may help you feel better. They can make it easier to cope with treatment. They also may reduce chronic low back pain, joint pain, headaches, and pain from treatments.

Before you try a complementary therapy, talk to your doctor about the possible value and potential side effects. Let your doctor know if you are already using any such therapies. They are not meant to take the place of standard medical treatment.

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