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How is aggressive bladder cancer typically treated?

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Treatment for aggressive nonmuscle-invasive bladder cancer includes surgical removal of the tumor through transurethral bladder tumor resection, or TURBT, followed by immunotherapy, states the American Society of Clinical Oncology. If the patient has muscle-invasive bladder cancer, standard treatment is radical cystectomy, which is removal of the bladder, in addition to chemotherapy.

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Cancer aggressiveness usually refers to the grade of cancer, or how irregular cancer cells appear through microscopy, when compared to healthy cells, according to doctors at HealthTap. Additionally, tumors are sometimes described as aggressive if they are large or have spread to other parts of the body.

When a surgeon performs TURBT as a part of treatment, he removes the tumor with a small wire loop or laser, explains the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Immunotherapy occurs when a catheter is used to place bacillus Calmette-Guerin, or BCG, directly into the bladder. The BCG then stimulates the immune system to attack and destroy the tumor, preventing recurrence.

A patient with aggressive bladder cancer usually receives radical cystectomy, or removal of the whole bladder and lymph nodes, but in some cases the surgeon performs partial cystectomy and removes only part of the bladder, states Cancer Research UK. When patients undergo chemotherapy, they take cancer-destroying drugs intravenously or orally. Systemic chemotherapy helps to shrink the cancer tumor and prevent recurrence or spreading. Most systemic chemotherapies are a mix of drugs, as a combination of drugs often works better than a single drug, notes the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

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