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If you have bladder cancer, the good news is that this type of cancer can almost always be cured with proper treatment. The key is diagnosing and treating cancer in its early stages, as the cancer is harder to treat once it has spread to other areas of the body. According to the American Cancer Society, 5-year survival rates for stage II bladder cancer is roughly 63-percent, while stage III patients have a survival expectancy of approximately 46-percent. As mentioned, later stage bladder cancer is more difficult to treat if it spreads, with stage IV bladder cancer patients survival expectancy at only 15-percent.
Common treatment options for bladder cancer include:
A common treatment for early-stage bladder cancer, intravesical therapy involves a catheter injection of either immunotherapy (which boost the immune system to attack cancer cells), or chemotherapy medication directly into the bladder to directly target and kill cancerous cells.
Radiation is often compared to getting a really potent x-ray. These ongoing treatments employ a powerful form of radiation that eradicates cancer cells.
Cystectomy is a form of surgery used to remove cancerous areas in the bladder—either partially (in what’s called a partial cystectomy) or more extensively to remove the entire bladder and any nearby lymph nodes (referred to as a radical cystectomy) and the nearby lymph nodes. Both types of cystectomy take up to two weeks for recovery.
Transurethral resection (TURBT)
Transurethral resection of bladder tumor is a commonly utilized surgery for early-stage bladder cancer patients. TURBT surgery involves inserting a resectoscope cutting instrument, with a wire loop at the end, directly into the bladder via the urethra to remove tumors or abnormal tissue cells. A liquid medication is often administered to kill any cancer cells that might remain. TURBT surgery is performed in the hospital, with a few days recovery time.
With later stage metastatic bladder cancer, and in cases where cancer has spread, doctors often recommend a combination of treatments in order to eradicate all the cancer cells. In this case, surgery is often prescribed along with chemotherapy, radiation, or immunotherapy, according to the patient’s diagnosis and health history.
Although some cancer patients are wary of clinical trials, doctors sometimes recommend newly developed medications and treatments for bladder cancer to certain patients before they’re widely available. Patients involved in clinical trials are volunteers who must follow a strict medical regimen during treatment so that researchers can monitor and collect research (i.e., side effects) of these new, investigational drugs.
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