Bladder Cancer

When treating bladder cancer, our goal is to preserve your bladder whenever possible and provide the best possible cancer outcome.

Our urology experts offer the region’s most advanced bladder cancer treatments and robotic surgery to preserve your urinary continence and quality of life.

You have a whole team behind you, with a treatment plan personalized to best address your bladder cancer and individual preferences.

What is Bladder Cancer?

A common form of cancer, bladder cancer occurs when cells of the bladder grow too quickly, become cancerous and form tumors. If left untreated, this cancer can spread to other parts of the body.

Who Should See a Bladder Cancer Specialist

Bladder cancer is typically discovered through symptoms. You should see a urologist if you have one of the following symptoms, which may be a sign of cancer or another bladder condition:

  • Blood in urine, causing your urine to look orange, pink or dark red depending on the amount of blood in your urine
  • Frequent urination, needing to empty your bladder more often than usual
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Waking up to urinate often during the night
  • Urgent feelings of needing to urinate even when your bladder isn’t full
  • Weak urine stream or trouble urinating

If you have symptoms or suspect you may have bladder cancer, contact a urologist today.

Diagnosing Bladder Cancer

Tests to diagnose and determine the stage of bladder cancer include:

  • Physical Exam: your doctor will examine you to determine if there are any signs of bladder cancer. 
  • Urinalysis: testing urine for blood and other substances
  • Urine cytology: urine sample is viewed under a microscope for any cancer or precancerous cells
  • Cystoscopy: thin, long flexible camera is inserted into your urethra to identify tumors in the bladder
  • Urine culture: any present bacteria in a urine sample is allowed to grow, to determine if an infection, not cancer, is causing your symptoms
  • Imaging tests: x-ray, CT, ultrasound, MRI and bone scan can detect cancer and whether the cancer has spread to other tissues or organs in your body

Treating Bladder Cancer

We design a personalized treatment plan for your exact type of bladder cancer, taking into account the grade, stage, location and molecular tumor analysis, when available. With our precision medicine approach, we conduct molecular analysis and next-generation sequencing to pair you with the most effective treatment.

Our urologists partner with the radiation and medical oncology experts at John Theurer Cancer Center to provide treatment in combination with your surgical procedure. Treatment may include image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT), clinical trials, chemotherapy or immunotherapy.

Your unique circumstances, lifestyle and goals are considered by a multidisciplinary team to determine the best treatment options for you. Our goal is to preserve your bladder whenever possible and achieve the best cancer-related outcome.

Our urologists are on the forefront of bladder sparing treatment for both muscle invasive and non-muscle invasive bladder cancer. As an alternative to having the bladder removed, patients have a combination of surgery to remove the tumor or tumors, intravesical/systemic chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Patients eligible for our bladder sparing treatment program are closely monitored with imaging, urine studies, and occasional cystoscopy.

Clinical Trials:

Our urologists are pioneers in robotic surgery and minimally invasive techniques for treating bladder cancer and preserving as much of your bladder as possible. We were among the first in the tri-state area to perform robotic bladder surgery and continue to innovate in this field. 

We specialize in surgical procedures such as:

  • Transurethral Resection (TUR): a special tool called a resectoscope is passed into the bladder through the urethra to remove the cancer and any remaining cancer cells
  • Bladder-Sparing Surgery (Partial Cystectomy): robotic and minimally invasive surgical techniques are used to remove only part of your bladder and protect nerves necessary for bladder control
  • Bladder Removal (Radical Cystectomy): robotic and minimally invasive surgical techniques, whenever possible, are used to remove the entire bladder, along with the prostate in men and the uterus and fallopian tubes in women 
 

If the bladder needs to be removed, we often can reconstruct a new bladder. One of three methods may be used to provide a way for urine to exit your body:

  • Neobladder Reconstruction: uses a segment of the small intestine to construct a new bladder and allows you to maintain your ability to urinate normally without a bag or tube
  • Continent Pouch: for patients who are not candidates for neobladder reconstruction, but who still wish to avoid an external bag or tube, a reservoir is created to collect urine inside the body and a small opening in the skin is made for a catheter to empty the reservoir
  • Ileo-Conduit: uses a small segment of intestine to allow urine to exit through an opening next to the navel and requires urine to be collected in an external device or bag

Our radiation therapy specialists are among the region’s most experienced in using image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT), which employs images taken before each radiation therapy session to precisely focus treatment on the exact location of the cancer cells. IGRT allows for the most effective dose of radiation while minimizing side effects and protecting healthy surrounding tissue.
 
Your personalized bladder cancer treatment plan may include:

  • Radiation therapy as the main form of bladder cancer treatment, if you are unable to have surgery or have early-stage bladder cancer
  • Radiation therapy before or after bladder-sparing surgery
  • Radiation therapy in combination with chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy as palliative treatment, to help control symptoms of advanced bladder cancer

Chemotherapy uses medications to treat cancer. We offer a range of bladder cancer clinical trials that provide you with access to the latest, most promising chemotherapy treatments.

Your personalized bladder cancer treatment plan may include: 

  • Intravesical chemotherapy, delivered directly to your bladder, if you have early-stage bladder cancer
  • Systemic chemotherapy, delivered through intravenous (IV) injection or a pill, that travels throughout your body
  • Systemic chemotherapy, given before or after bladder-sparing surgery, such as a transurethral resection (TUR) or partial cystectomy
  • Systemic chemotherapy as the main form of treatment for advanced bladder cancer that has spread to other parts of your body
  • Chemotherapy combined with radiation therapy
 

We participate in clinical trials of the latest, most promising immunotherapy for bladder cancer. Immunotherapy uses medications to help your immune system detect and fight cancer cells. 

Your bladder cancer treatment plan may include:

  • Immunotherapy delivered directly to your bladder through a catheter
  • Immunotherapy as a second line of treatment, if chemotherapy is not working
  • Immunotherapy in combination with bladder-sparing surgery
 

Our Research and Clinical Trials

A hallmark of the care provided at John Theurer Cancer Center and Hackensack Meridian Health is access to a wide range of clinical trials evaluating exciting new treatments, including studies not available elsewhere.

We have a particularly strong program committed to Phase I clinical trials, the earliest phase of assessment of a new therapy in patients. For urologic cancers, we are evaluating particularly novel biological agents as well as immunotherapy options that are changing the field. This offers our patients an opportunity to participate in a clinical trial, bringing the options of tomorrow today. Learn more about clinical trials for urologic cancers

Watch Dr. Mutahar Ahmed discuss the latest innovation in surgical management of invasive bladder cancer.

Bladder Cancer

Why Choose John Theurer Cancer Center for Bladder Cancer Treatment

Excellence:

A world-class bladder cancer program, John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center offers the latest, most advanced bladder-preserving treatments as well as access to clinical trials including immunotherapy. 

Hackensack University Medical Center has been ranked the #1 Urology Department in New Jersey for six years in a row by U.S. News & World Report and is also the only urology department in New Jersey that is nationally ranked. 

Awards & Accreditations | 2020 in Review

Robotic Surgery Experience:
Our surgeons were among the first in the tri-state area to perform minimally invasive robotic bladder removal surgery. Today we continue to perform the highest volume.

Record of Success

Team Approach

Our radiation oncology team includes radiation oncologists, physicists, therapists, nurses and support staff, and our medical oncology team offers the most advanced chemotherapy, hormone and vaccine therapy to target your specific type of prostate cancer.

Urology
Our Doctors

Our award winning team of renowned surgeons, physicians, researchers and other health care specialists are able to provide you with exceptional urological expertise, advancements and cutting-edge technology to develop a highly- personalized plan for each and every one of our patients.