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Genitourinary Cancer
Hospital  >  Care Programs  >  Odette Cancer Program  >  Genitourinary cancer care  >  Bladder cancer care  >  Diagnosis and treatment

Diagnosis and treatment

To diagnose bladder cancer, a biopsy must be obtained from the bladder. This is typically done with a surgical procedure that requires a general anesthetic, called a transurethral resection of bladder tumour (TURBT).

No incision is required and the procedure is done through the urinary channel (urethra). It usually requires an overnight stay in the hospital or can be done as an outpatient (same day surgery). The most common type of bladder cancer is called urothelial cancer (formerly called transitional cell carcinoma).

Within this type of cancer, 75% of patients will have a non-lethal form called superficial bladder cancer. The other 25% will have a more lethal form called muscle-invasive bladder cancer. Treatment will largely depend on whether you have superficial or invasive bladder cancer.

Treatment options

Superficial bladder cancer

Patients with superficial bladder cancer may need additional medication instilled into the bladder with a catheter. Commonly, the medication is either a chemotherapy drug or a tuberculosis vaccine called BCG.

Muscle invasive bladder cancer

Radical cystectomy
Patients with muscle-invasive bladder cancer are usually treated with complete bladder removal. Some patients may need chemotherapy before the procedure.

Radiation and chemotherapy
Some patients with muscle-invasive bladder cancer may be able to keep their bladder and undergo a combination of radiation and chemotherapy.