Bladder cancer - muscle invasive

Muscle invasive bladder cancer knows various stages, and your treatment will depend on the stage of your tumor. A tumor that has grown into the muscle wall is called muscle invasive bladder cancer. A tumor that grows in the bladder tissue but not into the bladder muscle is called non-muscle invasive bladder cancer

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Find out more about the symptoms and the most commonly used diagnostic tests and treatment types for muscle invasive bladder cancer on this page.

Symptoms

Bladder cancer (usually) develops slowly that does not cause symptoms immediately. The tumor is usually discovered on accident. Blood in the urine is never a good sign, so please see your physician if this happens to you.

Especially women with bladder cancer experience blood in the urine and recurring urinary tract infections. If you experience these symptoms, please see your general physician for a referral to the hospital for diagnostic tests. 

Symptoms that could signify a late-stage muscle invasive bladder tumor: 

  • pain in the pelvis
  • pain in the flank 
  • weight loss
  • noticeable mass in the lower abdomen
6 days

rapid diagnostics

You can usually get rapid diagnostics within six days

Diagnosis

If bladder cancer is suspected or if you are at risk of developing bladder cancer, you will need to undergo several diagnostic tests in order to diagnose or rule out bladder cancer. Your general physician can refer you to a urologist. This will happen if blood is found in your urine, or if your medical history is a cause for concern. Your medical history and urinary test alone are not enough to reach a diagnosis. The following tests can be done to reach a diagnosis:

Treatment options

Treatment for muscle invasive bladder cancer depends on the stage and subtype of your illness and individual characteristics of the patient. The different treatment types are listed below grouped by the type of muscle invasive bladder cancer:

1) local and locally-advanced bladder cancer. 
2) metastatic bladder cancer.

Treatment options for local / locally advanced bladder cancer

If you have local / locally advanced bladder cancer, the tumor grew into the muscle of the bladder (T2) or the surrounding fatty tissue (T3). If we find tumors in the surrounding organs - like the prostate, uterus, or tissue of the pelvic floor or abdominal wall, your tumor is classified as T4. No matter the stage, your treatment will be the same: a radical cystectomy, sometimes preceded by chemotherapy. if the tumor is limited to just the bladder (no metastases), your treatment will aim to cure you.

Treatment options for metastatic bladder cancer

Cancer that returns to the other organs or lymph nodes outside of the groin is called metastatic cancer. At this stage, the treatment no longer aims to cure you but can alleviate the symptoms (palliative treatment). This treatment aims to halt the cancer and keep the symptoms under control. Which palliative treatment is right for you, depends on your symptoms and wishes. We have multiple palliative treatments available. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are commonly used, as is a combination of the two (chemoradiation). In the case of pain, we can offer a radical cystectomy as part of palliative care.  

Support in your decision

Selecting a treatment, or opting out of treatment entirely, ca be a tough decision to face. It is important to us that our patients have a clear understanding of the effects of the treatment at their stage, and what the effects are on their quality of life. It may help to discuss all your options and considerations with close family and friends. Peer groups at the patient network and health care professionals at the Survivorship Center can support you during this time. 

Checkups

After every cancer treatment, follow-up screenings are essential to minimize complications and to detect and treat potential recurrences early. The first check-up appointment will be three months after your treatment. You will schedule the remaining consultations with your urologist. Your urologist can also answer all your questions about your illness or related topics.

Aftercare

Bladder cancer can significantly affect the lives of patients and their loved ones. Bladder cancer patients often face specific problems with urination or sexuality as well as general side effects of cancer and its treatment, like fatigue, pain, social limitations, and mental health issues like anxiety or uncertainty. You can find support at our Survivorship Center.