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Bladder Cancer Treatment Options by Stage

Bladder Cancer Treatment Options

The choice of bladder cancer treatment depends mainly on the location of the tumor in the bladder and the stage of the disease. Treatment for bladder cancer may involve surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy. Some people have a combination of treatments. Your doctor can describe your treatment options and the expected results. You and your doctor can work together to develop a personalized treatment plan that meets your needs.

Stage 0 (Papillary Carcinoma and Carcinoma in Situ)

Treatment of stage 0 may include the following:

  • Transurethral resection with fulguration.
  • Transurethral resection with fulguration followed by intravesical biologic therapy or chemotherapy.
  • Segmental cystectomy.
  • Radical cystectomy.
  • A clinical trial of photodynamic therapy.
  • A clinical trial of biologic therapy.
  • A clinical trial of chemoprevention therapy given after treatment so the condition will not recur (come back).

Stage I

Treatment of stage I bladder cancer may include the following:

  • Transurethral resection with fulguration.
  • Transurethral resection with fulguration followed by intravesical biologic therapy or chemotherapy.
  • Segmental or radical cystectomy.
  • Radiation implants with or without external radiation therapy.
  • A clinical trial of chemoprevention therapy given after treatment to stop cancer from recurring (coming back).

Stage II

Treatment of stage II bladder cancer may include the following:

  • Radical cystectomy with or without surgery to remove pelvic lymph nodes.
  • Combination chemotherapy followed by radical cystectomy.
  • External radiation therapy combined with chemotherapy.
  • Radiation implants before or after external radiation therapy.
  • Transurethral resection with fulguration.
  • Segmental cystectomy.

Stage III

Treatment of stage III bladder cancer may include the following:

  • Radical cystectomy with or without surgery to remove pelvic lymph nodes.
  • Combination chemotherapy followed by radical cystectomy.
  • External radiation therapy combined with chemotherapy.
  • External radiation therapy with radiation implants.
  • Segmental cystectomy.

Stage IV

Treatment of stage IV bladder cancer may include the following:

  • Radical cystectomy with surgery to remove pelvic lymph nodes.
  • External radiation therapy (may be used as palliative therapy to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life).
  • Urinary diversion as palliative therapy to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life.
  • Cystectomy as palliative therapy to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life.
  • Chemotherapy alone or after local treatment (surgery or radiation therapy).