Bladder Cancer | Miami Cancer Institute | Baptist Health South Florida
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Older man with bladder cancer at Miami Cancer Institute

Bladder Cancer

When diagnosed and treated in the early stages, bladder cancer usually is highly treatable.

Our team of medical, surgical and radiation oncologists target bladder cancer using cutting-edge technology and techniques.

Our Cancer Patient Support Center team goes beyond treating the disease; they support bladder cancer patients and their family members with compassionate services and programs that foster healing.

Expert Bladder Cancer Care

Miami Cancer Institute's chief of Urologic Oncologic Surgery, Murugesan Manoharan, M.D., is one of the most experienced physicians in the nation in bladder cancer procedures. He specializes in robotic, laparoscopic and complex open cancer surgery procedures and was the first urologist in the U.S. to perform robotic bladder surgery and reconstruction using an atypical surgical incision type. This skill and experience can greatly improve your chances for successful treatment and recovery.

About Bladder Cancer

The bladder is located in the lower abdomen. It collects and stores urine from the kidneys. The most common bladder cancer type is transitional cell carcinoma, which begins in the innermost layer of the bladder, called the urothelium. Other cancer types include squamous cell carcinoma, which begins in the flat, thin cells lining the bladder, and adenocarcinoma, which begins in the cells that make and relieve mucus and other fluids.

Bladder Cancer Risk Factors

Men, Caucasians and smokers have twice the risk of bladder cancer as the general population. Approximately 90 percent of people who develop bladder cancer are over age 55. Other risk factors include:

  • Personal history of chronic urinary tract infections, bladder infections, kidney or bladder stones.
  • Exposure to certain chemotherapy drugs or radiation treatments.
  • Exposure to certain chemicals.
  • Use of urinary catheters for a prolonged time.
  • Having a kidney transplant.
  • Certain genetic conditions, including hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer (HNPCC), also known as Lynch syndrome.

Symptoms of Bladder Cancer

Common bladder cancer symptoms may include:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Change in bladder habits
  • Painful urination
  • Frequent urination
  • Lower back pain

An accurate bladder cancer diagnosis is the first step in developing a successful treatment plan. Approximately 70 to 80 percent of patients with newly diagnosed bladder cancer are diagnosed at an early stage.

To diagnose bladder cancer, your doctor will perform a physical exam and review your health history, including lifestyle habits and family history. Other common diagnostic tests include:

  • Biopsy, which usually is performed during a cystoscopy.
  • Blood and urine tests.
  • Imaging studies, such as CT scan, PET scan, MRI, bone scan, X-ray, ultrasound and intravenous pyelogram (IVP) – an X-ray of your urinary system taken after injecting a special dye into a vein. (Link to Diagnostic Testing in Treatments & Services)
  • Cystoscopy, which enables your doctor to view abnormal areas by inserting a flexible tube with a tiny camera through the urethra and into the bladder. A small piece of tissue may be removed for biopsy. 
  • Cytology, used in conjunction with cystoscopy, allows cells to be washed from the bladder and studied to determine if they are cancerous.
  • Genetic counseling and testing, for people with a family history of bladder cancer or hereditary cancer syndromes. (Link to Genetic Counseling & Testing under Treatments & Services)

At Miami Cancer Institute, your comprehensive care involves numerous specialists. You may see medical oncologists, surgeons and radiation experts as well as nurses, dietitians, therapists and social workers.

Your treatment plan will depend on many factors, including your age and overall health and
the location and stage of your cancer.

  • Surgery usually is part of a bladder cancer treatment plan. Surgical options include transurethral resection (TUR), which is used for early-stage or superficial bladder cancer, and cystectomy, which is removal of the bladder. When your bladder is removed, bladder reconstruction surgery, or urinary diversion, is performed to give your body a way to store and remove urine. 
  • Chemotherapy is the main treatment for patients whose bladder cancer has spread to other parts of the body such as the lymph nodes, liver or lungs. 
  • Radiation therapy is an option for some patients. New techniques and advanced skill allow our highly skilled radiation oncologists to target cancer cells with more precision.
  • Proton therapy with pencil beam scanning technology offers a way to target and treat bladder cancer with unprecedented accuracy. Miami Cancer Institute’s Proton Therapy Center is the only center of its kind in the region and one of only 14 in the United States. If your care team recommends proton therapy, our world-renowned radiation oncologists will aim radiation beams within a few millimeters of a tumor’s edge, minimizing exposure to healthy tissue and nearby organs.
  • Immunotherapy, or biological therapy, uses drugs delivered through a catheter to stimulate an immune response within the bladder to destroy cancer cells.
  • Clinical trials offer access to promising new treatments. Talk to your doctor to see if you are a candidate for a clinical trial.