Q:

What are some alternatives to bladder removal?

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Quick Answer

Bladder removal is the standard treatment for invasive cancer, but bladder preservation options, such as chemoradiotherapy, partial bladder removal and radical transurethral resection of the bladder tumor, are sometimes possible, according to UpToDate. However, patients who choose bladder preservation risk a cancer relapse.

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Full Answer

During a radical transurethral resection of a bladder tumor, a surgeon views the interior of the bladder and removes any tumors or suspicious looking tissue, explains UpToDate. A few weeks after treatment, the surgeon examines the lining of the bladder again to look for any signs of cancer. If there is evidence of cancer, the surgeon recommends bladder removal.

Cancer patients with a single tumor or other specific characteristics may qualify for a partial bladder removal that allows them to keep the majority of the bladder, according to UpToDate. Bladder cancer patients may also consider chemoradiotherapy, which a combination of radiation and chemotherapy, to eradicate their cancer. However, many doctors recommend radical transurethral resection of a bladder tumor before attempting chemoradiotherapy.

After a bladder preservation, an estimated 30 to 60 percent of patients later have another bladder tumor, notes UpToDate. An estimated half of those tumors are invasive. Patients who choose bladder preservation surgery and have a tumor recurrence have a survival rate that is approximately 10 to 20 percent lower than patients who choose a complete bladder removal as their first course of treatment. If tumors recur after bladder preservation, a radical bladder removal is the suggested treatment.

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