Treatment of bladder cancer
Treatment and complementary approaches to bladder cancer
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Treatment of bladder cancer

The treatment of bladder cancer often requires that one combines several approaches: surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and immunotherapy. 

Since the risk of recurrence of this cancer is high, regular medical monitoring is necessary after treatment. Cystoscopy examinations are commonly performed. Thanks to them, the doctor can observe the inside of the bladder and detect anomalies (see diagram at the top of the plug).


Transurethral resection. It involves inserting a cystoscope into the urethra into the bladder to remove cancer cells using a small wire loop. The so-called transitional cell carcinoma “superficial” are usually treated in this way. Then, to stop bleeding and destroy any remaining malignant cells, they burn the affected area using an electric current (fulguration). After surgery, the patient may experience pain when urinating and have blood in his urine, but this effect is temporary. You can resume normal activities after one or two weeks.

Partial cystectomy. The surgeon removes a small portion of the bladder. Tumors restricted to one area of ​​the bladder and are sometimes treated. This reduces the bladder capacity and causes frequent urination, but postoperative drawbacks are generally limited.

In the case of larger tumors, it is often necessary to remove the entire bladder. Usually, the surgeon also removes nodes and nearby organs (prostate, seminal vesicles, and part of the urethra to the man uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, and part of the vagina and the urethra for Women).

The removal of the bladder must be followed by reconstructive surgery, which is to restore a new circuit for discharging the urine. If there are various ways to do this, the two most common methods are designed to collect urine in a bag outside the body or to reconstruct an internal artificial bladder with a segment of intestine.


Chemotherapy aims to reduce the risk of recurrence of the tumor and some people receive the intravenous treatment, before or after surgery. This decision is taken case by case, knowing that there are various treatment protocols.

Chemotherapy is sometimes administered intravesically, that is to say directly into the bladder. A thin, flexible tube is inserted into the urethra to transport the medicine in liquid form to the bladder. The drug solution is kept for one to two hours in the bladder, then drained. This treatment may cause bladder irritation, a burning sensation and discomfort, as well as more frequent and urgent urination. Generally, these side effects go away gradually.



Immunotherapy aims to strengthen the patient’s immune system to fight the tumor or to prevent a recurrence. This treatment can accompany transurethral resection. Usually it starts a few weeks after surgery. She repeated several times over a period that may extend over three years.

This technique involves injecting bacteria “attenuated” in the bladder, to encourage the body to react and destroy cancer cells that affect the bladder. For this purpose, use is often bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG), an avirulent bacterium, similar to that which causes tuberculosis.

Treatment can result in local effects such as bladder irritation and pain when urinating, and generals, such as nausea, vomiting, chills and fever.


Radiation therapy involves sending radioactive rays on specific areas of the body to destroy cancer cells therein are formed. It is used only in some cases.

Radiotherapy of the bladder can lead to stomach cramps and modify the stool and frequency of urination. You may feel tired and the skin of the irradiated area may be red and sensitive. This treatment can also have some effects on sexuality (erectile dysfunction, vaginal dryness). Side effects of radiation therapy fade after treatment, when the healthy cells are regenerated.

Complementary Approaches

Notic: Visit our Cancer sheet for all complementary approaches that have been studied in people with this disease, such as acupuncture, visualization, massage therapy and yoga. These approaches may be suitable when used in addition to medical treatment, not to replace them.

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