Cancer Guide

On Cancer: New Information about Our Expertise in Bladder Cancer Care

By Andrea Peirce, BA, Writer/Editor  |  Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Pictured: Dean Bajorin Medical oncologist Dean Bajorin discusses bladder cancer treatment options with a patient.

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.

Comments

I showed up with confirmed bladder cancer for a morning appointment with the world-famous MSKCC bladder surgeon Dr. Sherri Donat, she removed the cancer completely and I went home that afternoon in time for a
celebration dinner.

There was no pain at all, every cent was covered by my excellent insurance, and I can't even imagine what more MSKCC could have done for me unless they sent me home with a split of champagne for my celebration dinner.

Not all the credit belongs to Dr. Don't and her team. I and thousands of other patients are alive and cancer free today thanks also to donors like Henry Kravis and others whose names we'll never know. Their financial help makes it possible for MSKCC to be such a top cancer hospital that top cancer doctors from all over the world keep trying and tryng to join the team.

Dear Ronald, we are glad to know that you felt well-cared for during your time here, and hope you continue to be well. Thank you for sharing your experience.

I had neo-bladder surgery on May 29th, 2003. Thanks to Dr. Russo and his team, I have had 11 great years. The nurses, physicians and other staff are fantastic, second to none. Sloan Kettering is the best. Food is pretty good also. lol

Dear John, we are glad to hear that you are doing well. Thank you for sharing your experience!

How do you treat adjuvant breast cancer after surgery if the patient has developed an allergic reaction to the chemo protocols??

Debra, we consulted with one of our physicians who says that this specific question is not possible to answer through the blog or by email. Either a doctor-to-doctor communication is needed or a real consult between doctor and patient. If you would like to make an appointment with a Memorial Sloan Kettering physician or arrange a consult, please call our Physician Referral Service at 800-525-2225 or go to http://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/appointment. Thanks for your comment.

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