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Bladder Cancer

Getting diagnosed with bladder cancer just doesn’t seem fair.

What’s going to happen now? 

It’s confusing and frightening to suddenly hear you have cancer. A multitude of questions roll in between the time you learn you have bladder cancer and the time you meet with your cancer care team. During this worrisome time, you want to know the extent of your cancer, how it will be treated and if it will all just go away so you can get back to your normal life.

We’ll help you understand your condition. We’ll also help you sift through the overload of information that may be rushing through your mind from the research you may have done about how the bladder functions in the body, how and where cancer develops in the bladder and how it’s typically treated.

We want to answer all your questions so we can help you understand where you are now with your bladder cancer, and where your healing journey may take you. If you need guidance ‒ from navigating insurance issues to exploring your eligibility for clinical trials – we’ll be here for you.

Every member of our cancer care team, including our expert urologists, surgeons, oncologists and patient navigators, take personal interest in your cancer care.

Bladder Cancer Basics Treatments and Procedures

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q: What is bladder cancer and what causes it?


    Bladder cancer develops when cells in the bladder grow out of control. Most bladder cancers develop in the inner layer of the bladder where the urothelial cells are found. Sometimes the cancer grows into the other layers of the bladder, such as the layer of connective tissue and the layer of muscle that also make up the bladder. The more the cancer grows into/through these layers, the harder it becomes to treat.

    There is no known direct cause for bladder cancer, but there are risk factors linked to the condition. Just because someone has a risk factor, however, does not mean they will develop bladder cancer. Some of the bladder cancer risk factors include smoking, age, gender, race and genetics as well as chronic inflammation of the bladder, exposure to arsenic in drinking water and exposure to specific chemicals.  You can read more about bladder cancer risk factors at the American Cancer Society.

  • Q: Is bladder cancer treatable?

    A: Yes, bladder cancer is a treatable condition. The course of bladder cancer treatment and the outcome depend on the type, stage and spread of the cancer to other parts of the body (metastases). It also depends on your age and health. Your doctor can discuss the available treatment options with you, as well as expected results.
  • Q: Does OhioHealth treat bladder cancer?

    A: We treat all stages of bladder cancer. We provide patients who have bladder cancer with the best care available, which can include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, biologic therapy and other treatments. Your OhioHealth cancer care team will work closely with you to determine what treatment is best for your condition – treatment for bladder cancer depends on many variables, which can include the type you have, the stage it’s in, the grade of the tumor and whether it’s noninvasive or invasive.
  • Q: What are the different stages of bladder cancer?


    Staging is the process of determining the extent of the cancer, whether or not it has spread within the layers of the bladder and/or outside of the bladder to other organs. Staging is important in determining the type of treatment most appropriate for the cancer.

    The National Cancer Institute describes the stages of bladder cancer in this way:

    Stage O (Papillary Carcinoma and Carcinoma in Situ)
    In stage O, abnormal cells are found in tissue lining the inside of the bladder. These abnormal cells may become cancer and spread into nearby normal tissue. Stage O is divided into stage OA and stage OIs, depending on the type of the tumor:

    • Stage OA is also called papillary carcinoma, which may look like tiny mushrooms growing from the lining of the bladder.
    • Stage OIs is also called carcinoma in situ, which is a flat tumor on the tissue lining the inside of the bladder. It is cancer, but it has not invaded or destroyed normal cells.

    Stage I
    In stage I, cancer has formed and spread to the layer of tissue under the inner lining of the bladder.

    Stage II
    In stage II, cancer has spread to either the inner half or outer half of the muscle wall of the bladder.

    Stage III
    In stage III, cancer has spread from the bladder to the fatty layer of tissue surrounding it and may have spread to the reproductive organs (prostate, seminal vesicles, uterus, or vagina).

    Stage IV
    In stage IV, cancer has spread from the bladder to the wall of the abdomen or pelvis. Cancer may have spread to one or more lymph nodes or to other parts of the body.

    For more detailed information on bladder cancer staging, please consult the American Cancer Society.

  • Q: Where do I find more information on bladder cancer?

    A: There’s a lot of information about bladder cancer on the Web and in bookstores. We recommend you start with the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute for their comprehensive expertise.
  • Q: How serious is my bladder cancer?


    It’s important to talk to your doctor about the seriousness of your bladder cancer. We understand you may have many bladder cancer questions when you are newly diagnosed, but the answer you’re looking for is individual to you — just as it is individual to other bladder cancer patients — and so cannot be generalized in an FAQ. Only your doctor and other members of your cancer care team can provide answers to this question, with the detail and explanations you’ll want and need.

    Ask your doctor to explain the type of bladder cancer you have, what stage it’s in and what that means for your treatment and recovery. Share with your doctor your fears and concerns. Ask for information about support groups, if you feel you need to share with others who also have your type of cancer. And consider bringing a friend or family member with you to the appointment so they can help you hear and remember the information your doctor shares with you.

  • Q: What treatment options are available to me, and how will they affect my daily life?


    Your cancer care team will assess your bladder cancer condition and determine the most appropriate option(s) for treating it. At OhioHealth, we offer treatment for bladder cancer that includes external and internal radiation therapy, biologic therapy, chemotherapy and different types of surgery.

    Much will depend on what type of bladder cancer you have – transitional cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma or small cell carcinoma – the stage of it and the grade of the tumor. (The grade tells how much the tumor tissue differs from normal bladder tissue and could indicate how fast it will grow and spread.)

    Your cancer care team will talk you through the details of your treatment plan and also will explain at that time how it will affect your daily life, during treatment and going forward.

    To learn more about bladder cancer treatments, turn to the National Cancer Institute’s information on bladder treatment and also the American Cancer Society

  • Q: Will surgery be part of my treatment?


    Surgery is used to treat most bladder cancers, and there are several kinds of surgery in treating bladder cancer. They vary between minimally invasive surgery that may be used for early stage bladder cancer and removal or partial removal of the bladder, if the cancer is extensive in the bladder.

    Your doctor, as well as others on your OhioHealth Cancer Care Team, will work closely with you in determining the best treatment options for your cancer condition.

  • Q: When is surgery to remove the bladder necessary?


    Circumstances for surgical removal or partial removal of the bladder tend to be considered as a treatment option when bladder cancer has spread beyond the layer of cells where it started and into nearby connective and muscle tissue.

    At OhioHealth, cancer treatment plans are designed for each patient’s individual condition, and there should be no rush into thinking this would be the treatment for you. Your doctor and everyone on your cancer care team will work closely and compassionately with you in exploring the best options for treating your cancer and to help you understand them.

    If removal is the best option recommended for treating your cancer, reconstructive surgery (urinary diversion) will create another way for urine to be removed from your body. Your doctor will explain the surgery and how your body will function afterwards.

  • Q: Where can I find information to help me manage my urostomy?

    A: Your cancer care team will teach you what you need to know about living with and taking care of a urinary diversion or urostomy. They’ll give you educational materials so you’ll know just what to do. Additionally, the American Cancer Society provides helpful information about managing a urostomy that includes helpful topics, such as returning to work, exercise, sexuality, clothing, travel and more. You can access the information online at American Cancer Society website, where you also can download the information in a PDF.

Want more answers? Browse all of the OhioHealth cancer patient FAQs. General FAQ

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