The treatment advised depends on various factors such as the stage of the cancer, how large the cancer is, if it has spread, and your general health.
Some muscle invasive bladder cancers can be cured. Particularly if they are caught in early stages of the disease. However, treatment may aim to control the cancer if a cure is not realistic. With treatment it is often possible to limit the growth or spread of the cancer so that it progresses less rapidly, keeping the patient free of symptoms for some time. If a cure is not possible, treatment may aim to ease symptoms such as pain by reducing the size of the cancer.
- Surgery – the most common treatment for muscle invasive tumours is an operation to remove the bladder. This is a major operation and you will need an alternative way of passing urine if you have your bladder removed. One alternative way is a urostomy, which is where a surgeon uses a technique to arrange a system for urine to drain into a bag which you wear on the outside of your abdomen. Another alternative operation may be possible with the surgeon creating an artificial type of bladder from a part of the patient’s gut. Even if a surgical cure is not possible, some techniques may be used to ease symptoms. For example, if a tumour is blocking the passing of urine, then placing a catheter may be appropriate.
- Radiotherapy – a treatment which uses high-energy beams of radiation, focused on cancerous tissue, killing cancer cells or stopping them from multiplying. This might be used as an alternative to surgery.
- Chemotherapy – using anti-cancer medicines to kill cancer cells or to stop them from multiplying. A course of chemotherapy (neoadjuvant chemotherapy) may be advised before surgery or radiotherapy, which may improve the prognosis (outlook), and in some cases a course of chemotherapy is given after surgery.