How is bladder cancer treated?

Doctors and nurses in surgery

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Treatment for non-muscle invasive bladder cancer  


Removing the tumour or tumours from the lining of your bladder. Surgery is done through a cystoscope (thin flexible tube) passed into your bladder. 

This is the main treatment for non-muscle invasive bladder cancer and is often the only treatment needed. The surgery is called transurethral (trans-yer-reeth-ral’) resection of a bladder tumour (TURBT).

Superficial bladder cancers tend to come back from time to time. They can be treated in the same way each time. For this reason you will have regular check-ups, where your doctor will to look inside your bladder (cystoscopy).

Drug treatments after TURBT


Chemotherapy can be given as a once-off treatment directly into your bladder after your TURBT. This is known as intravesical chemotherapy.

If there is a moderate risk of the cancer returning you may need this treatment weekly a number of times. You may also need to have this treatment if your bladder cancer returns after the initial treatment. 


BCG may be given directly into the bladder if there is a high risk of your cancer coming back after surgery. BCG was originally a vaccine used to prevent tuberculosis (TB). 

Read more about drug treatments for non-muscle invasive bladder cancer.

Treatment for muscle invasive bladder cancer 


Surgery for invasive bladder cancer usually involves removing the whole bladder and then constructing a new way to pass urine. There are different ways of doing this. Read more about surgery for muscle invasive bladder cancer


This involves using high energy X-rays to kill the cancer cells. Your bladder will not be removed but you may get side-effects that affect your bladder in the short or long term. Your consultant will discuss with you if you  radiotherapy might be helpful for you. Read more about radiotherapy .


This is the use of drugs to kill or control the cancer cells. Chemotherapy for muscle invasive bladder cancer is  given into a vein (intravenously). You may have chemotherapy during radiotherapy (chemoradiation), before radiotherapy or before or after surgery. Read more about chemotherapy .

Coping with side-effects 

The type of side-effects you get will depend on the type of treatment, the dose, the duration and your own general health. 

Your doctor or nurse will discuss any possible side-effects with you before your treatment. You can also read about the different treatments for information on possible side-effects. 

For more information

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