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Treatment Options for Bladder Cancer
MEDICAL ANIMATION TRANSCRIPT: You or someone you care about may have been recently diagnosed with bladder cancer. This video will help you understand some of the available treatment options. The most common type of bladder cancer called urothelial carcinoma or transitional cell carcinoma is a disease where cancer cells form in the tissue lining the inside of the bladder. Treatments for bladder cancer may include one or more of the following: surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy. There are two main types of surgery for bladder cancer. The first type is called transurethral resection of bladder tumor or TURBT with fulguration, for early stage cancer. During this procedure, a lighted tube called a cystoscope will be inserted into your bladder. Then, the tumor will be removed with a wire loop. Remaining tumor tissue may be burned away in a process called fulguration. The second type of surgery called cystectomy is for cancer that has spread into the bladder wall. During a partial cystectomy, the part of your bladder wall containing a small tumor will be removed. After this type of surgery, your remaining bladder may not be able to hold as much urine. You may need to urinate more often. In a radical cystectomy, all of your bladder will be removed if the tumor is large or is in more than one part of the bladder. Nearby tissues such as lymph nodes will also be removed. In men, the prostate and seminal vesicles will be removed. And in women, the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, and part of the vagina will often be removed. If your bladder is removed, a piece of your intestine can be used as a passageway for urine to drain out of your body. It will drain through an opening in your abdomen and into a small bag or the intestine can be shaped into a small pouch to store the urine before it passes through the opening in your abdomen. In this case, you will put a small tube called a catheter into the opening to empty urine from the pouch. Or if your urethra was preserved, a new bladder can be built from a piece of intestine so urine can pass out of your body in the usual way. Another treatment option is radiation therapy. It uses radiation to kill the cancer cells or keep them from growing. External beam radiation uses a machine outside the body that aims radiation at the cancer. Internal radiation therapy uses a radioactive source that gives off radiation. The radioactive source is put inside the body into or near the cancer. Chemotherapy uses certain drugs to kill cancer cells or stop their growth. These drugs may be administered intravenously to treat cancer cells throughout the whole body, or via a catheter to treat cancer cells inside the bladder. The way the chemotherapy is administered will depend on how advanced the bladder cancer is. Immunotherapy helps your immune system fight cancer. Cancer can sometimes hide from the immune cells that attack them. For example, both cancer and immune cells may have proteins called checkpoint proteins. If these proteins attach, the immune cell won't attack the cancer cell. Some immunotherapy drugs for bladder cancer block the checkpoint proteins from attaching to each other. As a result, the immune cell can attack and destroy the cancer cell. Another example of immunotherapy is called BCG. It's made of a type of bacteria in a solution. BCG is put inside your bladder where it sets off a response that kills cancer cells. If you have questions about bladder cancer or any medications you have been prescribed, talk to your doctor. It is important to take your medications as directed, and report any side effects you may have.