Treatment of bladder cancer depends on many factors such as the characteristics of your cancer (extent and stage of cancer), your general health and your preferences. Treatment aims to completely cure the disease but if that seems impossible, your doctor will focus on preventing the tumour from growing or spreading, increasing life expectancy and maintaining the quality of life.
Treatment options for bladder cancer include:
- Radiation therapy.
- Biological therapy (immunotherapy).
Your doctor will discuss all the treatment options with you and then decide on the treatment that is best for you.
Surgical procedures: There are many surgical procedures available for the treatment of bladder cancer. Some of the surgeries done include Transurethral resection of bladder tumour (TURBT), segmental cystectomy or partial cystectomy (removal of part of bladder),radical cystectomy (removal of entire bladder) and surgery to create a new channel for the urine to excrete from the body. The surgery your doctor does will depend on factors such as the stage of bladder cancer, your overall health and your preferences.
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses certain drugs to destroy the cancer cells and control the growth of tumour. During chemotherapy for bladder cancer, you may be given a combination of one or more drugs. These medications may be given orally, through a vein (intravenously) or perhaps administered directly in the bladder by passing a tube through the urethra (intravesical therapy). Chemotherapy for bladder cancer may be given before surgery to decrease the size of tumour so that a less invasive surgery can be done or after surgery to treat residual tumour (kill cancer cells that might remain). If needed, your doctor may use chemotherapy along with radiation therapy.
Radiation therapy: High-powered energy beams are used in radiation therapy or radiotherapy to destroy the cancer cells and shrink tumours. During therapy, the beams are directed at the affected area and the cancer cells are thereby, treated or destroyed. Regrettably, thenormal cells apart from the cancer cells are damaged as well and this can cause several side effects such as fatigue, nausea, vomiting and erythema of the skin. These side effects can be distressing, but your doctor will prescribe medications to treat or help control them.
Radiation therapy can be given as:
- External beam radiation- by virtue of an external beam radiation, radiation is given by a machine outside your body. The machine directs the beam of radiation to specific points on your body.
- Internal radiation (brachytherapy)- In this technique, a radiation-filled device such as small seeds, wires or a cylinder is placed into your body and taken near the tumour for a short period of time.
Radiation therapy for bladder cancer may be given before surgery to shrink a tumour so that it can more easily be removed or after surgery to treat residual tumour (kill cancer cells that might remain). If needed, you may be given radiation therapy along with chemotherapy.
Biological therapy (or immunotherapy): This therapy aims to improve your body's natural immune system to fight off cancer cells. In people with bladder cancer, biological therapy is usually given through the urethra and directed into the bladder (intravesical therapy). Some biological therapy drugs used to treat bladder cancer include BacilleCalmette-Guerin (BCG) and Interferon alfa.
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