Most patients experiencing non-muscle invasive bladder cancer recurrence will initially undergo surgery to remove the cancerous cells, and the type of surgery will depend on the size and stage of the bladder cancer, and the patients’ health and preference.
Transurethral resection of bladder tumor (TURBT) or resection
During a TURBT procedure, you will be put under anesthesia and your doctor will insert a small, electrified loop of wire through your urethra into your bladder. The loop is moved back and forth through the tumor to cut away the tissue with an electric current. When the tumors are very small and appear to be low grade and non-invasive, your doctor may choose to simply burn away the cancerous cells (fulgration). Patients may experience painful or bloody urination for a few days after a TURBT.
In some cases, your doctor may want to do a second, repeat TURBT after tumor removal, especially if your tumor(s) were large, high grade, or stage T1, or if there was no muscle in the initial specimen sent to the pathologist. A repeat TURBT helps ensure that your bladder cancer is staged correctly.
For more information on TURBT surgery, visit the section on Treating Bladder Cancer on BCAN’s main website.
Segmental cystectomy or partial cystectomy may be an option for a small subset of bladder cancer patients who are experiencing non-muscle invasive recurrence that is limited to one area of the bladder and has no CIS component. While under general anesthesia, your surgeon will make an incision in your abdomen and remove only a small portion of the bladder that contains the cancerous cells.
If you have high-grade, high-risk non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (Ta, T1, and/or CIS) and have experienced recurrence after prior intravesical therapy, your doctor may recommend complete radical cystectomy, or surgical removal of the entire bladder, followed by urinary reconstruction. If cystectomy is performed at this stage, your risk of life-threatening metastasis is generally much lower than if you wait to remove the bladder once the cancer has invaded the muscle.
For more information on cystectomy and urinary reconstruction surgery, visit the section on Treating Bladder Cancer on BCAN’s main website.
A cystectomy delay of 3.1 months undermines patient survival. You should talk with your doctor about the risks of delaying surgery.