Bladder cancer is the second most common urologic cancer after prostate cancer. About 67,200 new cases of bladder cancer are diagnosed in the United States every year—50,050 cases in men and 17,150 in women. Close to 90 percent of people with bladder cancer are over age 55. When bladder cancer is detected and treated early, the five-year survival rate is 90 percent.
Most bladder cancers are a type of malignancy called transitional cell carcinoma, and are discovered in the early stages of the disease when it is superficial and has not penetrated deeply into the wall of the bladder. This form of bladder cancer has a limited capacity to spread through the bladder wall to other organs, and is highly treatable but often recurs locally within the bladder. At Columbia University Department of Urology at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital we closely monitor patients with superficial bladder cancer to catch the disease as soon as it recurs. We have also done pioneering studies that have resulted in the discovery of new agents to prevent this local recurrence.
A smaller percentage of patients have bladder cancer that is much more aggressive and likely to spread through the layers of the bladder wall, and if not eradicated, to other organs. Deciding on the best form of treatment for patients with invasive bladder cancer is a very complex and extraordinarily individual process. The Columbia Urology team has a long track record treating patients with bladder cancer, and we offer patients care that is tailored to their disease and their individual preferences.
Bladder Cancer Treatment
Our goal in treating patients with invasive bladder cancer is to preserve your bladder whenever feasible for as long as possible. We work closely with Columbia University Medical Center's oncology team in treating this group of patients. In our practice we are able to preserve the bladders of most patients with aggressive cancer for some time, and many of these patients keep their bladders permanently.
Bladder Cancer Surgery
If patients do need a partial or radical cystectomy (surgery to remove part or all of the bladder), we have the expertise to perform this procedure in a minimally invasive manner. Surgeons here also may be able to perform cystectomies using the da Vinci robotic surgery system, which gives surgeons a highly magnified view of the surgical field, and unsurpassed surgical dexterity and control of the miniaturized surgical instruments. As with other minimally invasive procedures, patients benefit with shorter hospital stays, less pain, less blood loss, smaller incisions, and a quicker return to normal activities.
Patients who have undergone a radical cystectomy need a new way to store and eliminate urine. Members of our surgical team are pioneers in bladder reconstruction techniques following radical cystectomy. To replace the bladder we can create a neobladder, an internal bladder made from a portion of the intestine, or a continent reservoir, an internal bladder storage reservoir that can be drained by passing a small tube through an opening in the abdomen.
Individualized Care for Patients With Bladder Cancer
Patients with bladder cancer require a lot of ongoing care including repeat procedures and intravesical therapies (immunotherapy or chemotherapy placed directly into the bladder). At Columbia Urology we offer care that is tailored to each patient's specific needs. We have an established record of incorporating innovative technologies such as minimally invasive approaches when appropriate, and a longstanding history of excellence in traditional oncology. Because we have seen hundreds of patients with bladder cancer and are constantly performing research to improve patient outcomes in this area, we have the experience to know when to shift our treatment approach in each individual patient.