Bladder cancer: treatment

If a tumor has formed in the bladder, there are two different treatment goals depending on the stage of the cancer: The primary goal is to remove or destroy the bladder tumor and possible secondary tumors. This procedure is called curative therapy. However, if complete healing is not possible, an attempt will be made to prevent the tumor from growing and spreading for as long as possible.

Surgical removal of bladder tumor

If the bladder tumor is discovered at an early stage and is still relatively small, it can usually be removed through the urethra (endoscopic treatment). If such endoscopic treatment is not possible or sufficient, open surgery is performed. The bladder, adjacent lymph nodes and affected neighboring organs are removed. If the bladder has to be removed, your doctor will inform you about alternative options for urine storage and urine diversion.

Radiation therapy is an alternative to open surgery in bladder cancer. The tumor cells are killed by ionizing radiation. Because bladder tumors are very sensitive to radiation, bladder cancer can often be completely cured by radiotherapy. Compared to open surgery, the benefit of radiotherapy is that the bladder can be maintained in about 75 percent of patients.

Chemotherapy as a treatment method

If surgery does not remove all of the cancer cells, as they have already spread throughout the body via the bloodstream, chemotherapy will be used in addition to surgery. Chemotherapy can be used to destroy cells that divide quickly, as is the case with cancer cells. However, chemotherapy also destroys healthy cells that often divide. This can lead to typical side effects of chemotherapy, such as hair loss.

In bladder cancer, it is also possible to apply chemotherapy locally in the bladder. This form of treatment is usually chosen when the bladder tumor has already been removed through the urethra. To prevent re-formation of malignant tissue, drugs are then rinsed once in the bladder. There they stay for about two hours. Likewise, after removal of the tumor, drugs that stimulate the immune system can be flushed into the bladder at regular intervals. They too should prevent the recurrence of a bladder tumor.

If the bladder cancer has already progressed so far that there are no longer any chances of recovery, a patient's quality of life can be maintained as long as possible by means of a palliative medical treatment. The aim of palliative care is primarily to relieve the patient's pain. In addition, this form of therapy also provides mental support for the patient and his relatives.

Bladder cancer: good chance of recovery in the early stages

If you experience any symptoms suggestive of bladder cancer, it is important to see a doctor. Because if bladder cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, the chances of recovery are usually good. Due to the uncharacteristic symptoms, bladder cancer is rarely recognized at an early stage. But even if the cancer is discovered at a later stage, the chances of a cure for bladder cancer are on average higher than for other cancers.

If the bladder tumor has been treated successfully, it is important that those affected undergo regular follow-up after completing the treatment. For regular check-ups can react early in case of a relapse and accompanying or consequential diseases can be treated in good time. At the beginning, the check-ups take place every three months, later every six months and finally every twelve months.

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