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Bladder Cancer | Urinary Cancer

Our Approach to Urinary (Bladder) Cancer Treatment

Bladder cancer occurs in the lining of the urinary bladder. Bladder cancer is the 6th most common cancer in the United States. MaineHealth Cancer Care specialists bring their skills and expertise to community hospitals and specialty practices, so patients often do not have to travel far for cancer care. Our specialists offer the most advanced and comprehensive services for treating urinary (bladder) cancer.

Finding Urinary (Bladder) Cancer Specialists

The list below shows which doctors may be involved in your cancer care. Select the type of specialist you're looking for to find a provider in your area.

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Smoking and chemical exposure increases cancer risks

Bladder cancer often affects men and older adults. Being a smoker or getting exposed to certain chemicals increases your bladder cancer risk.

The most common bladder cancer symptom is blood in the urine. People also may have:

  • Painful urination

  • Dark urine

  • Frequent urination

Diagnosing bladder cancer includes labs and imaging tests

The following are bladder cancer screening tests:

• Cystoscopy. A thin, lighted tube is inserted through the urethra into the bladder. Tissue samples may be biopsied.

• Urine cytology. Urine sample is examined under a microscope to check for abnormal cells.

• Hematuria test. Doctors check for blood in a urine sample by using a microscope or a special test strip. 

Bladder cancer treatment can vary

Bladder cancer treatment may include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, targeted therapies, clinical trials, and complementary and integrative therapies.

Surgery: The type of bladder cancer surgery depends on the bladder cancer stage and grade:

  • Transurethral resection of bladder tumor (TURBT) is a procedure that lets your doctor diagnose and treat your bladder cancer. A surgeon inserts an instrument called a cystoscope into the bladder and uses a tool to remove the tumor. Additional treatments may follow, including chemotherapy and immunotherapy, to keep the cancer from coming back.

  • Radical cystectomy removes the entire bladder as well as tissue around it and possibly other organs. In some instances only a part of the bladder is taken out. That procedure is called a partial cystectomy. Your surgeon may perform laparoscopic or robotic surgery for the cystectomy.

Chemotherapy may be given before surgery for bladder cancer.

  • Intravesical chemotherapy puts chemotherapy directly into the bladder through a catheter.

  • Systemic chemotherapy treats cancer cells throughout the body.

Radiation therapy may be done along with chemotherapy to treat bladder cancer.

Immunotherapy uses the body’s own defenses to fight the cancer. Therapy involves placing an immunotherapy drug directly into the bladder.