Bladder CancerBladder Cancer Treatment

Let's Talk About Bladder Cancer Treatment

There are many approaches to treating bladder cancer. Understanding your options can help you feel confident in the decisions you make.

    Our Pro PanelBladder Cancer Treatment

    We went to some of the nation's top experts in bladder cancer to bring you the most up-to-date information possible.

    Hooman Djaladat, M.D. headshot.

    Hooman Djaladat, M.D.Urologic Oncologist and Associate Professor of Clinical Urology

    University of Southern California Institute of Urology
    Los Angeles
    Philippe Spiess, M.D. headshot.

    Philippe Spiess, M.D.Genitourinary Oncologist and Assistant Chief of Surgical Services

    Moffitt Cancer Center
    Tampa, FL
    Christopher M. George, M.D. headshot.

    Christopher M. George, M.D.Medical Oncologist

    Northwestern Medicine Cancer Center

    Frequently Asked QuestionsBladder Cancer Treatment

    What is a urinary diversion and which one is right for me?

    After a surgeon removes your cancerous bladder, you’ll need a new way to store and get rid of urine. That’s called a urinary diversion and there are three types. The most common kind for most people is an urostomy or ileal conduit pouch that fits over an opening in your stomach. There’s also a neobladder, made from parts of your intestine, that’s put in place of your old bladder, but if your cancer has spread to the urethra that may not be an option. Talk to your urologist and seek out info from folks who’ve gotten each type. You can find them online at the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network’s forums.

    I have stage 4 bladder cancer. What are my options?

    More than before, thanks to new immunotherapy and targeted drugs that can shrink tumors dramatically and may even put you in remission. Your best bet for getting these new drugs is at a dedicated cancer center, where your oncology team can help you enroll in clinical trials.

    What is BCG and why is there a shortage of it?

    BCG is a weak version of the bacteria that causes tuberculosis. It’s used in intravesical therapy, which is when a urologist injects a liquid form of the drug into your bladder every week for about six weeks or so after your tumor has been surgically removed. One of the two companies that makes BCG stopped manufacturing it in 2016, causing a shortfall. Although the other company has ramped up production, it takes time to make the drug, and it doesn’t cost that much (at least compared to other bladder cancer drugs), so there’s no real incentive for other companies to get in the game. That’s why it’s now only given to patients with high-grade tumors.

    What is the bladder cancer survival rate?

    It depends on the stage, but overall the five-year survival rate for people with bladder cancer is 77%.

    Linda Rodgers

    Linda Rodgers


    Linda Rodgers is a former magazine and digital editor turned writer, focusing on health and wellness.