Bladder Cancer | Symptoms and Treatment | MedStar Health

The bladder is a balloon-like organ that lies in the center of the pelvis. It stores urine created by the kidneys until excreted during urination. Bladder cancer is diagnosed in 50,000 patients annually in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society.

We provide comprehensive care for bladder cancer including:

  • Chemotherapy and immunotherapy for early-stage treatment

  • Radical cystectomy with continent urinary diversion (bladder replacement using intestine instead of external drainage system)

  • Robotic-assisted laparoscopic surgery

  • Cutting-edge medical oncology and radiation treatment

  • Palliative services


Symptoms of bladder cancer may include:

  • Blood in the urine

  • Pain during urination

  • Pain in the pelvis


Your doctor will ask for a complete medical history and will perform a thorough physical examination. Diagnostic tests may include:

  • Analysis of urine under a microscope to check for blood and possible cancerous cells

  • Radiological imaging of the entire urologic system, including ultrasound

  • CT scan

  • MRI

  • Cystoscopy with biopsies


Fortunately, 80 percent of bladder tumors can be readily treated with endoscopic techniques, which remove the tumors through the cystoscope via the urethra. At times, immunotherapy – a form of the tuberculosis vaccine known as BCG – is instilled in the bladder to treat or prevent recurrences.

However, in 20 percent of patients, the cancer has invaded into the bladder wall, and more aggressive treatment is required. Treatment may involve:

  • Chemotherapy

  • Radiation therapy

  • Bladder cancer surgery

  • A combination of the three

Our providers

A young male doctor explains the urinary system to a patient using an anatomic model in a clinical setting.

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