Bladder Cancer

The urinary bladder is a hollow organ located just behind the pelvic bone. The bladder is made of layers of muscles, which allows it to stretch. Urine produced by the kidneys is stored in the bladder, allowing urination to be infrequent and voluntary. Bladder cancer is one of the six most common cancers in the United States.

There are three main types:

  • Transitional cell carcinoma is the most common (90% of all cases). It begins in the bladder lining. These cancers can be “superficial” and involve only the inner lining of the bladder or “invasive” and involve the deeper structures or muscle of the bladder
  • Squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma are less common and are usually at a more advanced stage when diagnosed, possibly requiring more aggressive therapy

Why Us? 

Our urologists have extensive experience in performing bladder cancer surgery for both superficial and invasive bladder cancer and will ensure that you get the latest and most appropriate treatments necessary
In cases where a reconstruction is required after complete bladder removal, our urologists can create state-of-the-art, complex orthotopic neobladders to maintain maximum function and body image
We offer the latest minimally invasive surgical techniques, and our urologists are among just a handful of surgeons in Arizona with the expertise in robot-assisted surgery to perform robotic cystectomy in select patients
We partner with experts in radiation oncology and hematology oncology here at UA Healthcare for a team of experts that ensures that you get the best care available

Treatment Options 

For “superficial” transitional cell bladder cancer caught early, physicians usually only need to remove tumors with a procedure called a “transurethral resection of bladder tumor” (TURBT).

In certain cases, your doctor may also consider instilling chemotherapy directly into the bladder at the time of surgery or in the clinic. Superficial bladder tumors have a tendency to recur and regular checks for cancer are necessary.

If the cancer has become more invasive and involves the deeper muscle layers of the bladder, surgical removal of the bladder (radical cystectomy) is the standard treatment. Radiation is a less common alternative, either alone or in conjunction with surgery.

Patients who undergo a radical cystectomy will discuss with their physicians options for the reconstruction of their urinary tract, including:

  • An ileal conduit, which is a small tube constructed from a segment of the intestine; it allows urine to drain into a bag through a surgical opening in the skin
  • An orthotopic neobladder, which uses the intestine to construct a "new" bladder that is connected to the urethra so patients can again urinate through the urethra
  • A continent cutaneous diversion, which uses part of the colon to form an internal reservoir; patients empty the reservoir by inserting a catheter through a small opening in the skin every 4-6 hours