Top 4 Treatments For Bladder Cancer

Top 4 treatments for bladder cancer

Treatment for cancer usually sees different doctors working together to create an overall treatment plan for the patient. In the case of bladder cancer, treatment plan charted out for the patient’s well being will depend on factors like the type of cancer, stage of the cancerous growth and the grade of cancer.

Bladder cancer – Treatment
Here are some of the most recommended bladder cancer treatment options for patients.

A surgical procedure for bladder cancer involves removing the tumor, as well as some healthy tissues surrounding it. The type of surgery chosen will depend on the stage, and the grade of cancer and will include:

  • Transurethral Bladder Tumor Resection (TURBT)
    This procedure involves inserting a cystoscope into the bladder via the urethra and removing the tumor with the help of a tool that makes use of a small wire loop, fulguration or laser. Anesthesia is administered during the procedure to minimize the pain.
  • Partial or radical cystectomy
    In a radical cystectomy, the entire bladder is removed along with a few healthy tissues and organs nearby (in certain cases, the urethra and prostate in men and the ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus in women). In some cases, only a part of the bladder will have to be removed. Removal of some pelvic nodes is also done to note if cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
    In the case of a radical cystectomy, the patient needs to opt for a urinary diversion procedure wherein the surgeon will make use of a part of the colon or small intestine to divert the urine to an opening on the outside of the body. A bag will be attached to this opening to collect urine.

Side effects of bladder cancer surgery
Some of the common side effects experienced by patients who undergo bladder cancer surgery include the following:

  • Discomfort at the surgical site
  • Mild bleeding
  • Delayed healing
  • Infection
  • Urine leakage
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Nerve damage in the pelvis
  • Inability to empty the bladder completely

Chemotherapy is another popular bladder cancer treatment option for individuals. It makes use of certain drugs to kill the cancerous cells, thereby hindering their ability to grow and divide. The two types of chemotherapy recommended based on the stage of the cancer include:

  • Intravesical (local) chemotherapy
    This procedure involves administering drugs to the cancerous cells in the bladder with the help of a catheter, which is inserted into the urethra. It targets only superficial cancer cells in the bladder and not those on the bladder walls or in other organs. Some of the drugs used for this type of chemotherapy include mitomycin, thiotepa, cisplatin, valrubicin, doxorubicin, and gemcitabine.
  • Systemic (whole body) chemotherapy
    This procedure involves killing the cancer cells in the body by administering the drugs directly into the bloodstream. This can be done via an oral capsule or an intravenous (IV) tube. The most common drugs used for this treatment include cisplatin, gemcitabine, carboplatin, and MVAC, which is a combination of methotrexate, vinblastine, doxorubicin, and cisplatin.

Side effects of chemotherapy for bladder cancer
Some of the common side effects of chemotherapy for bladder cancer include the following:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased risk of infection

Also known as biologic therapy, this bladder cancer treatment procedure involves boosting the body’s immune system to help raise the latter’s defenses against the cancer cells. The immune system function is restored either via materials made by the body or materials made in a laboratory.

The drug commonly prescribed for immunotherapy treatment is Bacillus Calmette – Guerin (BCG), a weakened bacterium, which is very similar to the TB causing bacteria. The BCG drug is administered to the bladder via a catheter. The bacterium, attached to the inner walls of the bladder, boosts the immune system to fight cancer-causing cells until the tumor is destroyed.

Side effects of immunotherapy for bladder cancer
Some of the common side effects of immunotherapy bladder cancer treatment include the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Mild fever
  • Sudden chills
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Bleeding from the bladder or burning sensation in the bladder

Radiation therapy
This procedure involves using high energy X-rays to destroy the cancerous cells in the bladder. Carried out by a radiation oncologist, the radiation therapy is either given from outside the body or via implants. The radiation therapy extends to a number of treatment cycles for a specific period.

Side effects of radiation therapy for bladder cancer
Some of the common symptoms of radiation therapy for bladder cancer include the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Loose bowel movements
  • Skin reactions
  • Bladder irritation
  • Frequent urination
  • Bleeding from the bladder/rectum

There are many treatment options available for bladder cancer. The best type of bladder cancer treatment chosen will depend on several factors, including the stage of cancer and individual body conditions.

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