Duke’s bladder cancer specialists use the latest medical and surgical advances to treat bladder cancer at every stage, including non invasive, invasive and metastatic. Sophisticated techniques target treatment of your bladder tumor and minimize disruption to healthy tissue. If needed, our skilled surgeons perform complex surgeries and reconstructions to preserve function. Whenever possible, we match your type of bladder cancer to our ongoing clinical trials to ensure you get the best care available.
Medical advances in bladder cancer
If you or someone you know is concerned about bladder cancer, you need a team that uses the most effective techniques and treatments, and minimizes the chances that you will need complex surgery.
Doctors and surgeons in our nationally ranked cancer center, one of only a few National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, care for all types of bladder cancer patients daily. Our nationally ranked oncologists and urologists regularly test new therapies and explore substances called biomarkers to better understand bladder cancer and how it responds to different treatments. If bladder cancer has spread into the muscle layer of your bladder, our oncologists and surgeons ensure you get the best treatment possible. That may mean chemotherapy and/or surgery. We want to improve your quality of life and your survival.
Choose Duke for your bladder cancer treatment because we offer:
- A nationally ranked program. We are consistently ranked among the best cancer programs in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. We are also part of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers dedicated to improving care for our patients.
- Expertise and many options for care. We are one of the top centers in the Southeast for bladder cancer care. We offer the treatments you need, from the least invasive to the most complex surgeries.
- Same-day scheduling. If you have a diagnosis of advanced bladder cancer, our doctors collaborate to offer same-day appointments for oncology, surgery, and imaging. Whenever possible, we see you within a week of your contacting us. You leave with a comprehensive treatment plan.
- Personalized care. We match your bladder cancer care to the type of bladder cancer you have. This ensures you receive the most effective treatments available.
- Access to clinical trials. You may have access to clinical trials that provide advanced treatments before they become available at other centers.
- A comforting environment. Our Duke Cancer Center features spacious waiting areas, a Quiet Room, large infusion rooms, and a rooftop garden area where patients — based on their treatment regimen — can receive chemotherapy outdoors.
- More options for milder treatments. If your cancer is within your bladder and has not spread into muscle layers, we offer more in-bladder surgical treatment options than most other cancer centers. This technique allows us to use your natural opening rather than making a surgical cut.
- A team of specialists. Our urologic, radiation and medical oncologists, work together with ostomy and specialty nursing and psychologists to carefully monitor your cancer and provide the best treatment options.
- Enhanced recovery after surgery. We are one of just a handful of U.S. centers that has an enhanced recovery program that adheres to guidelines to keep you healthier and get you back to the comfort of home sooner. This program is designed to reduce your in-hospital time and lessen the chance for complications, as well as monitor your need for pain medication and fluid levels for digestion.
- Support for you and your family. Our comprehensive cancer support services range from helping patients minimize the side effects of treatment to coping with the emotional and psychological effects of diagnosis and treatment. View all of our cancer support groups in our event calendar.
Targets treatment of early-stage bladder cancer that has not spread into the muscle layer of the bladder. Chemotherapy, immunotherapy and other anticancer drugs that kill cancer cells are administered directly to the bladder through a catheter. This reduces exposure of healthy tissue to these drugs. We are currently the only site in the U.S. to use heat (hyperthermia) to treat non-invasive bladder cancer.
The most common surgery for early-stage bladder cancer is performed daily here. It is easy on patients because no incision is needed as we guide a thin medical tube into the urethra (the natural channel that leads from outside the body to the bladder) and into the bladder, so that laser rays or electrical current can target and kill tumor cells and abnormal tissues.
Removes all or part of the bladder, and is the most common treatment when bladder cancer spreads to the muscle layer.
Removes your whole bladder, as well as nearby lymph nodes if cancer has spread. Your own intestinal tissue is used to replace your bladder. To ensure all cancer has been removed, this surgery normally involves removing the prostate gland in men. For women, it may include the removal of ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus and a small part of the vagina. Reconstruction includes the formation of a new passageway for urine to leave your body after your bladder is removed. This is called urinary diversion. We offer three options:
- Ileal conduit (urostomy). A small piece of intestine drains the urine into a bag on the abdomen.
- Right colon pouch (Indiana pouch). A piece of large intestine is used to create an internal urine reservoir that is drained by passing a catheter into the body every 3-4 hours.
- Neobladder (Studer bladder). A piece of small intestine is used to create an internal urine reservoir that is the hooked into your urethra. This allows you to urinate normally.
Given before surgery and radiation if your bladder cancer has spread to the bladder muscle. Chemotherapy before surgery helps increase survival rates.
High-energy rays kill tumor cells. External radiation administered by a machine outside the body is most often used to treat bladder cancer. Radiation may be used as the main treatment for people who want to avoid bladder removal.
Finding bladder cancer early and getting an accurate diagnosis is key to your health and outcomes.
Urine is analyzed under a microscope to check for cancer cells.
A narrow tube called a cytoscope is inserted into your bladder to let your doctor look carefully into your bladder and urethra, the tube through which urine exits the body. Your doctor may take a tissue sample at this time.
Creates images of the structures in your urinary tract. Imaging may include specialized X-ray imaging (a pyelogram that uses dye to highlight bladder features) and CT scans of your urinary tract and nearby tissue. If you have confirmed bladder cancer, cancer-staging tests may include CT, MRI, bone scans and chest X-rays.