Over the past few decades, advances in diagnostic tools and new therapies for bladder cancer have greatly improved outcomes, and many people with this illness today can be cured. Ensuring the best results requires close cooperation from a team of specialists, however.
Our newly updated guide to bladder cancer describes the leading-edge approaches and uniquely individualized level of treatment we provide at Memorial Sloan Kettering — and shows why hundreds of people each year choose to come here for care.
Memorial Sloan Kettering’s multidisciplinary team of experts not only is among the most experienced in the field but also is a tightly knit unit uniquely adept at rapidly assessing, anticipating, and meeting the needs of patients and family members. The team includes world-class specialists in surgery, chemotherapy, radiology, pathology, and nursing.
Surgeons and oncologists work in the same building and regularly visit patients no matter where they happen to be in the course of their treatment. Our specially trained nurses care for the complex needs of patients undergoing outpatient chemotherapy, as well as those recovering from surgery and unusual wounds.
Innovations in Diagnosis and Treatment for All Stages of Disease
Researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering are also investigating better ways of diagnosing and treating bladder cancer based on newly discovered genetic information.
By studying the DNA of bladder cancer cells through registries such as our Genotype-Phenotype Urothelial Cancer Study, for example, we are accelerating the development and implementation of more personalized treatments. These and other clinical trials provide many of our patients with access to information and treatments not available elsewhere.
Our surgeons use a variety of approaches to remove bladder tumors and preserve urinary and sexual function. For many people with early-stage bladder cancer, we can successfully treat the disease with minimally invasive surgery followed by a short-term follow-up treatment called bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) therapy to prevent the cancer from returning.
For people with later-stage cancers that have spread beyond the bladder’s inner layers, our doctors can sometimes offer a combination of chemotherapy and radiation that keeps the bladder intact.
Because our teams work so closely together, we are able to ensure that our patients with muscle-invasive bladder cancer who are receiving chemotherapy prior to surgery start their regimen as rapidly as possible. This promptness in treatment has been shown to produce better outcomes for our patients. Other institutions may take twice as long to complete this step.
Many physicians and patients use our online prediction tool (called a nomogram) to estimate their risk of cancer recurrence and help in making treatment decisions after surgery for primary invasive bladder cancer.
Options to Preserve or Reconstruct the Bladder
If a portion or all of the bladder is removed as part of treatment, our surgeons can often offer innovative techniques to preserve or reconstruct it in ways that enable patients to achieve a very high quality of life. We are experienced in performing an innovative technique to create a new bladder, called a neobladder.
If an opening on the abdomen to divert urine to an external pouch (called a stoma) is needed, our Certified Wound Ostomy Continence Nurses will show you how to care for it and can visit you at home if needed. Many people who receive stomas at Memorial Sloan Kettering participate in our in-person and virtual support groups.