Bladder cancer is a cancerous growth in the bladder, the organ that stores urine before elimination. Learn more from our health library about bladder cancer.
Bladder Cancer Experts in North Carolina
At the Comprehensive Cancer Center, our urologic oncologists are experts in treating bladder cancer, as well as reconstructing bladders following cancer treatment. Our surgeons are pioneers in removing cancerous bladder and reconstructing new bladders using the robotic surgery tool, known as the daVinci® Surgical System and we are consistently innovating on improvements in treating bladder cancer. The Cancer Center is one of the busiest centers on the East Coast for the treatment of bladder cancer, as it is a complex disease to treat successfully.
Bladder Cancer Symptoms
Bladder cancer generally begins with blood in the urine; it is accompanied by painless urination. If your primary care physician suspects you have bladder cancer, he or she will probably refer you to a urologic oncologist, a doctor who specializes in treating cancers of the urinary system.
Bladder Cancer Treatment
There are several different advanced options for bladder cancer treatment. They include:
- Neoadjuvant chemotherapy. This is chemotherapy given before surgery to shrink the tumor. Your doctors may decide this is the best treatment because once the tumor is smaller; it will be easier to perform the surgery to remove it. Conserving as much bladder tissue as possible is important for rebuilding the bladder following surgery.
- Endoscopic surgical treatment. Your doctors may elect to remove the bladder tumor using minimally invasive techniques. This will depend on the location, type and size of your tumor.
- Bladder removal and urinary diversion, known as a stoma. Bladder tumors can destroy the bladder. Your doctors may have to remove the bladder completely and build a diversion into your belly button, so that urine can leave your body through a bag. This is known as continent cutaneous urinary diversion.
- Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG). BCG is used to treat bladder cancer. It is a form of immunotherapy and through some unknown mechanism kills the cancer cells.
Bladder Reconstruction at Wake Forest Baptist Health
Our urologic surgeons have extensive experience in using bowel to create a “new” bladder in cases where the bladder must be removed. This is a unique procedure, and we are one of the few centers to offer this option to our patients. In addition, our surgeons use nerve-sparing techniques to improve postoperative sexual function.
With robotic surgery, surgeons make small incisions in the patient’s abdomen through which a camera and robotic instruments are inserted. The surgeon sits at a console away from the patient and controls 4 instruments using finger and hand movements. The tiny centimeter-sized instruments eliminate the need for the 6- to 8-inch incision required with traditional surgery. The camera gives the surgeon a 3-dimensional view inside the patient’s body with a magnification of 10- to 15-fold.