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Personalized Care in Treating Bladder Cancer

With a team approach, our bladder cancer doctors at University Hospitals (UH) Seidman Cancer Center provide the highest quality of care for our patients with even the most complex bladder cancer diagnosis. Our multidisciplinary team analyzes your unique cancer type and designs an individualized treatment plan that is appropriate for your type and grade of bladder cancer.

UH Seidman Cancer Center is part of the National Cancer Institute-designated Case Comprehensive Cancer Center at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, which is one of an elite group of 49 comprehensive cancer hospitals nationwide. Our entire multidisciplinary team of oncologists, surgeons, and pathologists evaluates and reviews every single case,so diagnosis and treatment decisions are based on the knowledge and proficiency of a team of cancer experts. Together, we work through every step of cancer care to help a patient get well.

Cutting-Edge Diagnostics Tests and Procedures

We use a variety of cutting-edge diagnostic tests to determine whether a patient has bladder cancer. If you are demonstrating any of the symptoms of bladder cancer, we may use one or a range of these diagnostic tests and procedures:

  • Biopsy: The purpose of a biopsy is to confirm a bladder cancer diagnosis by evaluating small samples of your body tissue.
  • Cystoscopy: A cystoscopy involves inserting a narrow tube called a cystoscope through your urethra,so our specialists can closely examine both your urethra and bladder.
  • Imaging tests: Computed tomography (CT)urogram and retrograde pyelogram are imaging tests, using x-ray, that show the structures of your urinary tract for expert evaluation.
  • Urine cytology: To check for cancer cells, a sample of your urine may be analyzed in a urinecytology.

State-of-the-Art Bladder Cancer Treatments & Clinical Trials

At UH Seidman Cancer Center, we offer a wide range of state-of-the-art bladder cancer treatment options. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy or surgery are all viable treatments for this condition.

In addition to more traditional chemotherapy and radiation treatment methods, immunotherapy is a state-of-the-art technique that stimulates your body’s defense mechanisms. As one of the first diseases with active immunotherapy treatment protocols, our team is using new therapies for bladder cancer treatment with critical inhibitor capabilities. Normally, your immune system fights disease, but many cancer cells hide from your own immune system. These immunotherapy treatments inhibit or target signaling proteins that allow cancer cells to hide so your own immune cells can actually attack the cancer cells.

Our team also uses an innovative approach to advanced bladder cancer treatment called intravesical therapy. This approach uses a catheter to deliver cancer fighting chemotherapy or immunotherapy drugs directly into your bladder, rather than through your system with intravenous (IV) or oral medications. By targeting treatment directly to the lining of the bladder, early stages of bladder cancer can be treated with fewer side effects.

Bladder cancer surgery may be a consideration for your specific bladder cancer treatment, including:

  • Transurethral resection of bladder cancer: Our team at UH will determine if the cancer has spread to the muscle layer of the bladder wall. If not, we are able to use a minimally invasive approach through the urethra and remove just the bladder cancer tumor, only a portion of the inner bladder, so bladder function remains.
  • Partial cystectomy: When bladder cancer is more invasive and has spread to the muscle wall, but is still small, our team can remove only a portion of the bladder, with the bladder wall, and then close the bladder so function remains. Due to a smaller bladder, more frequent urination may be necessary.
  • Radical cystectomy: This surgical procedure removes the entire bladder when a larger bladder cancer tumor is present or if the cancer has spread to several areas of the bladder. Our team will also provide reconstructive surgery options to store and remove urine after the bladder is removed. Though it has been standard protocol to remove the reproductive system along with the bladder in female bladder cancer patients, UH surgeons are able to perform organ-sparing cystectomy in appropriate candidates. This allows female patients to retain their ovaries, vaginal length and sexual function after surgery.
  • Bladder reconstruction/Neobladder: The neobladder bladder reconstruction uses a piece of the bowel to create a new bladder. The new bladder is attached to the ureters (the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder) and to the urethra (the tube that carries urine out of the body). When the procedure is successful, it allows patients to urinate voluntarily and maintain control of urination.

Robotic Surgery to Treat Bladder Cancer

Genitourinary cancer surgeons at UH have the ability to use robotic surgery technology to treat bladder cancer. Using da Vinci robotic surgery technology, our surgeons perform robotic cystectomy to remove all or a portion of the bladder. This surgical system has a set of advanced surgical tools that the surgeons can manipulate with greater precision and range of motion. Robotic bladder cancer surgery has many advantages over traditional surgery. Because it requires only a few small incisions, it can mean less pain, less blood loss, and less scarring. Robotic surgery can also mean shorter hospital stays and faster recoveries.

As our team continues to advance cancer care, bladder cancer clinical trials may also be recommended by our team. As an academic medical center, access to these promising new treatments are available at University Hospitals that are not yet readily available to the public.

Understanding Your Type of Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer is the sixth most common type of cancer in the U.S. It occurs in the lining of the bladder and leads to symptoms such as blood in the urine, a frequent urge to urinate, painful urination and low back pain. The three types of bladder cancer include:

  • Adenocarcinoma: A rare type of bladder cancer, adenocarcinoma begins when glandular cells form in the bladder after a long-term irritation or infection.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma: Another rare bladder cancer, squamous cell carcinoma occurs when flat squamous cells form in the bladder after a long-term irritation or infection.
  • Transitional cell carcinoma: The most common type of bladder cancer, transitional cell carcinoma occurs in the transitional cells found in the inner layer of the bladder.

Bladder cancer can be classified as low-grade or high-grade. Low-grade bladder cancer grows slowly and is less likely to invade the muscular wall of the bladder. High-grade bladder cancer, however, grows more aggressively and spreads to the muscular wall of the bladder and other organs.

Contact Our Bladder Cancer Experts

For more information on bladder cancer or to schedule an appointment with one of our bladder cancer specialists, contact us today or find a location near you.

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