Bladder Cancer Treatment

Bladder cancer is a complex disease with many potential treatment options, including local surgery, intravesical therapy, and chemotherapy. Perlmutter Cancer Center doctors are developing strategies for bladder cancer prevention, early diagnosis, and aggressive surgical treatment for patients whose disease progresses - with particularly strong programs for patients with superficial bladder cancer. They can also work with your personal physician to assure continuity of care.

Leading the Way in Research

The Perlmutter Cancer Center has one of the country's largest bladder cancer research programs. Researchers and physicians are testing novel markers for bladder cancer and new agents for the treatment of superficial bladder cancer. The hope is that we can avoid having to surgically remove a patient's bladder by preventing the disease from progressing. Patients whose disease is superficial can usually avoid bladder removal by having chemotherapy along with radiation therapy or immunotherapy.

Bladder Cancer Surgery

For the 20 percent to 30 percent of patients who do require bladder removal, Perlmutter Cancer Center surgeons are leaders in bladder reconstruction. In this procedure, a urologist removes the bladder, and then a reconstructive surgeon rebuilds the bladder using tissues from the small and large intestines, allowing the patient to avoid having to wear a urinary collection bag and providing urinary function very similar to individuals with a bladder. Perlmutter Cancer Center surgeons have significant experience with bladder removal and reconstruction.

We also have experts who specialize in the surgical and/or pharmacological treatment of incontinence and erectile dysfunction, which can sometimes develop after treatment for genitourinary cancers.

Immunotherapy

Investigators are also assessing a novel bladder cancer "vaccine" developed by Perlmutter Cancer Center investigators. This form of immunotherapy is not used to prevent the disease, but rather reduce the risk of recurrence in patients who have already completed therapy. It offers promise for patients with advanced disease that may not be curable using standard approaches.

Intravesical Therapy

Intravesical therapy is an approach in which anticancer drugs are administered directly into the bladder via a catheter. This approach reduces the risk of side effects because the drugs do not enter the bloodstream. Our investigators are assessing the effectiveness of novel drugs such as panobinostat delivered via intravesical therapy. The hope is that they can diminish the risk of cancer invasion and reduce the need for surgery while minimizing treatment side effects.

Bladder Cancer Support Services

The Perlmutter Cancer Center's Supportive Services Program features a staff of professionals skilled in psychiatry, social work, nutrition, genetic counseling, symptom management, palliative care, bereavement, survivorship/post-treatment issues, physical therapy, complementary therapies, caregivers’ issues, research, patient education, staff support and education, home care, patient assistance, and staff development. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 212-731-5480.