Bladder cancer is the fifth most common cancer in the United States. It occurs when the bladder – a balloon shaped organ in the lower abdomen that stores urine – is invaded by cancerous cells. Though the incidence of bladder cancer has risen in recent years, so have innovative strides in its diagnosis and treatment.
It is important that you choose an experienced medical team to treat your bladder cancer. Leading the way, with advanced training and years of practice are our urologic surgeons, who perform all of the surgery for urologic cancers at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center. In their role as surgical oncologists, they collaborate with a group of internationally renowned experts, creating an individualized care plan – just for you.
Urologic services are available at Brigham and Women’s Hospital Main Campus in Boston, at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital in Jamaica Plain, at Brigham and Women's/Mass General Health Care Center at Foxborough, and at our newest locations Dana Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center in Milford and Brigham and Women's Health Care Center at Westwood. Discuss the most convenient location for you when you make an appointment with a patient coordinator.
Factors that contribute to an increased risk for developing bladder cancer include:
There are several types of bladder cancers, including the following:
The most common signs and symptoms of bladder cancer are:
The survival rate for patients is good if bladder cancer is caught early. Your urologist will meet with you to discuss concerns and to conduct a thorough evaluation. Diagnostic tests and procedures may include:
Your urologist will order additional tests to determine the size of the cancer and whether cancer cells have spread within the body. This is called staging. Tests may include additional CT-scans or other imaging tests. Bladder cancer stages include:
Treatment for bladder cancer depends on many factors including the stage of the cancer and where it is located. Your urologist will discuss the best treatment for your particular situation. Often a combination of therapies will be recommended. These include:
Biological therapy or immunotherapy signals the body's immune system to fight cancer cells. It is typically administered through the urethra and directly into the bladder. This is called intravesical therapy.
Biological therapy drugs used to treat bladder cancer include:
You will receive a thorough diagnostic evaluation and receive clinically-proven treatment by a board-certified urologist who specializes in bladder cancer. Your experience post-treatment will vary depending upon the stage of your cancer. Early detection – and the involvement of an experienced urologist – is important to the successful outcome for bladder cancer treatment. After treatment, routine surveillance by your urologist will be necessary.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital practices a multidisciplinary approach to patient care, collaborating with colleagues in other medical specialties. Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center gives you access to the world’s best cancer experts. The Division of Urology’s surgical oncologists work hand-in-hand with medical oncologists and radiation oncologists to create an individualized care plan. Specialists also include radiologists, pathologists, nurse specialists, social workers, palliative care specialists and dietitians.
To learn more about our cancer partnership, visit Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center.
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