BLADDER CANCER

Expert care and a range of treatment options.

Female patient with doctor

Getting started

Your treatment begins with your Legacy Cancer Institute doctor recommending a plan based on expert guidelines, called protocols. Your treatment is determined by:

  • The type of cancer you have: transitional cell carcinoma (most common), squamous cell carcinoma or adenocarcinoma (very rare). They are named for the type of cell affected. 
  • The location of the tumor
  • The extent of the disease, called the stage
  • Any tests you have had during diagnosis.
  • A discussion about what is right for you.

Cancer in the bladder lining is called “superficial,” while cancer that spreads to the muscle wall, nearby organs and lymph nodes is called “invasive.”

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Bladder cancer treatment options

There are several types of treatment for bladder cancer, and many people undergo a combination of treatments.

  • Surgery has the goal of removing the tumor. Legacy Cancer Institute features experienced surgeons who in many cases use minimally invasive techniques, including robotic surgery, that may allow you to recover more quickly than traditional surgery.

    Common surgeries for bladder cancer include:
    • Transurethral resection (TUR) is a surgery that uses a thin lighted tube called a cystoscope to enter the bladder through the urethra to remove cancer.
    • Partial cystectomy removes part of the bladder, especially in those with low-grade tumors limited to one area of the bladder. Also called a segmental cystectomy.
    • Radical cystectomy removes the bladder and nearby lymph nodes or organs. Urinary diversion creates a new route for the body to store and pass urine.
  • Radiation uses high-energy X-rays or other radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. Learn more about radiation therapy.
  • Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells throughout the body. Learn more about chemotherapy.
  • Immunotherapy uses the body’s own immune system to treat cancer (also called biologic therapy). Substances from the body or made in a lab are used to trigger an immune response. They boost, restore or direct your own natural defense against cancer. Learn more about immunotherapy

Talk to your doctor about these and other options for treating bladder cancer. There may also be a clinical trial (research study) for which you are eligible. Researchers are discovering new therapies for treating cancer all the time, giving doctors new resources for your care. 

What happens next

Many cancer treatments can cause challenging side effects. Your cancer team is dedicated to helping you manage these symptoms in the best ways possible. Comfort care can treat symptoms to help improve your quality of life; this is also called palliative care.

To see how well your treatment is working, some of the tests used to diagnose and stage your cancer may be repeated. Your doctor uses these tests to decide whether to stop, change or continue treatment based on the results. These tests can also determine if cancer has returned. Whenever possible, we work to stop the growth of cancer and reduce the chance of cancer coming back.  

Working together for you

Our cancer experts work together with a common goal: delivering the right care for you.


A range of specialists collaborate regularly in meetings called tumor boards to discuss the best plan for your care. Your treatment plan is made just for you, depending on your general health, your age, your particular cancer and its growth.

More support

You are not alone. Legacy offers support throughout your cancer journey, as well as care for your emotional, social and spiritual needs. 

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