Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the bladder.

The bladder is a hollow organ in the lower part of the abdomen. It is shaped like a small balloon and has a muscular wall that allows it to get larger or smaller. The bladder stores urine until it is passed out of the body. Urine is the liquid waste that is made by the kidneys when they clean the blood. The urine passes from the two kidneys into the bladder through two tubes called ureters. When the bladder is emptied during urination, the urine goes from the bladder to the outside of the body through another tube called the urethra.

Bladder chemotherapy

Chemotherapy may be given prior to surgery or radiotherapy and this is called “neoadjuvant chemotherapy”.
Treatment is given intravenously and is usually repeated every 3 weeks. There are various combinations of chemotherapy. Treatment may vary from one patient to another depending on several factors including general fitness and other medical conditions you may have as well as your blood tests.
The most common schedule of chemotherapy in bladder cancer is a combination of Cisplatin and Gemcitabine. For full details, you can click on this link. You are likely to require further assessment after your course of chemotherapy is completed using CT scan as well as Cystoscopy.
We will liaise closely with the urology team to decide on the best way forward with regards to the second stage of your management of bladder cancer using radical cystectomy or radical radiotherapy.
Sometimes, chemotherapy is given to control rather than cure bladder cancer and this is called “palliative chemotherapy”. This may include various combinations of drugs like Cisplatin and Gemcitabine or Carboplatin and Gemcitabine. Other alternative options exist and may need to be considered at a later stage.
Bladder Radiotherapy

Radiation treatment is a non-surgical form of treatment of bladder cancer and help preserving bladder function. The choice of treatment will be discussed with you in details including both the advantages and side effects. Not all patients are suitable for this treatment and the decision about radiation therapy or surgery will be discussed with the urology team as well as with patients to finalise the management plan.
In general, radiation treatment will consist of 4 weeks of daily visit (excluding the weekend) to the radiation unit at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre. Each treatment usually takes less than 20 minutes on outpatient basis. Treatment plans may have to be modified and adapted to take into account your general health and fitness and other medical conditions. Further details on bladder radiotherapy can be found here.

Radical Cystectomy is another form of bladder cancer treatment and is usually used following a course of chemotherapy. The choice of surgery or radiotherapy will be discussed by the Urologist and the oncology team and you will be asked to take an active role in the decision making process as we believe in actively involving patients in their own treatment.

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