Treatment for Non-Muscle Invasive Bladder Cancer
Non-muscle invasive bladder cancer is when the tumor(s) have not spread into the bladder muscle. These tumors are either:
- Stage 0 bladder cancer (which can be further divided into stage 0a and stage 0is/Tis), or
- Stage I (1) bladder cancer
Ask your health care team about the short- and long-term side effects your treatment may cause. They may have tips on how to cope with those side effects. They can also tell you what symptoms you should let your care team know about right away.
Treatment for Stage 0a
If you have stage 0a bladder cancer, your doctor will perform a TransUrethral Resection of Bladder Tumor (TURBT) that removes the tumor. This will be the only cancer treatment you need. But because bladder cancer has a high risk of coming back, you will need to see your urologist regularly for cystoscopies and other follow-up tests.
If cancer does come back, it’s usually the same grade and stage and is treated with another TURBT.
Treatment for Stage 0is/Tis and Stage I (1)
Like stage 0a, treatment for stage 0is/Tis and stage I (1) bladder cancer begins with a TURBT to remove the tumor. But to help keep these cancers from coming back, you may also need intravesical therapy. This is a treatment that is put directly into the bladder using a catheter.
Patients with non-muscle invasive bladder cancer and muscle-invasive bladder cancer may want to consider clinical trials as treatment options. These research studies might be investigating new drugs, new drug combinations, or new surgical or radiation techniques. Or they might be looking at ways to help cancer survivors. Find clinical trials for bladder cancer patients on the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network Clinical Trials Dashboard.
Regular Follow Up
You will need to have routine follow-up tests and exams to find a recurrence as early as possible.
- If you have a Stage 0a noninvasive papillary tumor, the TURBT that removes the tumor will be the only treatment you need. However, you will need to see your urologist regularly for cystoscopies and other follow-up tests.
- If you have Stage 0is or Stage I (1), your urologist may have you come back in about 4 to 6 weeks for another TURBT. Then, you will have additional cystoscopies and other tests every 3 months.
- If your cancer doesn’t come back, follow-up visits can be spaced farther apart, such as every 6 months or once a year.
If you are at high risk for recurrence or if you have many recurrences, your doctor may recommend that you have your bladder removed. This is called a cystectomy. Learn more about treatment for muscle-invasive bladder cancer.