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Bladder Cancer

Easy Read Information

Your bladder collects and stores your urine ready for you to have a wee. Bladder Cancer is where you have a tumour in your bladder.

This page gives you information that you would receive for bladder cancer.

Who we are

We are the regional centre for bladder cancer care in Merseyside and Cheshire. We provide quick diagnosis and expert treatment using the latest techniques.

What we do

When you come to see us, you can expect:

  • Experts working together to give you the best treatment
  • Specialists from different medical areas meet weekly. This is called a multi-disciplinary team meeting (MDT) and is central to the way we work. The MDT advise, support and create treatment plans that are personalised for every patient.
  • With you every step of the way - You’ll be assigned a specialist nurse who will be with you throughout your treatment journey, from your first appointment to aftercare. The nurse will help you with any problems or questions you may have.
  • Access to the latest treatments - The clinical trials programme makes new treatments available to patients – often giving them a better outcome. We aim to have a trial option open to patients wherever available.
  • Research-driven care - As a university hospital, we lead research into bladder cancer diagnosis, treatment and prevention. We regularly publish research papers that help in the fight against cancer

Bladder Cancer Diagnosis

Your doctor (GP) will send you to the hospital for further tests if you display bladder cancer symptoms like:

  • blood in the urine
  • needing to pass urine very often
  • needing to pass urine very suddenly
  • pain when passing urine

These symptoms are much more likely to suggest urinary infection, not cancer. But it is important to tell your doctor about them straight away.

Tests for bladder cancer include:

  • Cystoscopy: the doctor looks inside the bladder using a flexible fibre-optic instrument.
  • Biopsy: tissue samples are taken and then passed to a tissue expert (pathologist) for examination under a microscope. This can be done during the cystoscopy. The procedure requires general anaesthetic.
  • Ultrasound scanning of kidney and bladder: This uses sound waves to make a picture of the body. Find out more about ultrasound scans at the hospital.
  • Intravenous Urogram (IVU/IVP): this is an x-ray examination of your entire urinary system (the organ system that produces, stores and eliminates urine).
  • CT scan: the scan takes lots of x-rays of your body. A computer then joins-up the x-rays to make a 3D picture of inside your body.

Your test results are discussed by the multi-disciplinary team (MDT). This is a group of cancer experts including:

  • consultants (leading bladder cancer experts)
  • specialist nurses
  • clinical oncologists (specialists in the treatment of cancer using radiotherapy and chemotherapy)
  • radiologists
  • pathologists (tissue specialists)

The MDT provide support and advice and help you decide the best treatment path if cancer is discovered.

Treatment starts as soon as possible after the cancer has been discovered. You will be assigned a specialist nurse who stays with you every step of your treatment journey. The nurse is available to answer any questions you may have along the way.

We treat every stage of bladder cancer

Your treatment depends on many factors. One of the most important is how far the cancer has spread in your body. Bladder cancer can be in four different stages.

Treatment types:

  • Endoscopic removal of bladder tumour (TURBT) - The doctor removes the cancer from the inside the bladder. This is done under general anaesthetic.
  • Chemotherapy: This uses a combination of drugs to stop the cancer from growing back. The drugs can be injected into the blood or given orally as tablets to swallow.
  • Radiotherapy: This uses radio waves to kill cancer cells. Sometimes we use radiotherapy to try and preserve the bladder.
  • BCG Vaccine: BCG is a vaccine for tuberculosis (TB). It also helps to stop bladder cancers growing back or spreading. BCG treatment is usually given weekly for six weeks and is injected directly into the bladder.
  • Surgery: There are many different types of surgery, depending on how big and how far the cancer has spread. We perform all major surgical procedures at the hospital, including:

  • Removal of all or part of the bladder (radical and partial cystectomy)
  • creating an external stoma to collect urine (urostomy)
  • creating a new internal stoma (continent urinary diversion)
  • bladder reconstruction
  • keyhole surgery (laparoscopic surgery)
  • transurethral resection (TUR). This removes most of the cancer to slow down growth.

Being referred to us

We will see you for an appointment within two weeks at the urology clinic. Urology is the branch of medicine that deals with the bladder, prostate, kidneys, ureters and reproductive organs.

What happens when you see us

You will be asked about your medical history and your current symptoms. Your urine is taken for examination. The doctor then feels the area around your abdomen and bladder. Some diagnostic tests are performed on the day. You'll need another hospital appointment for other tests (e.g. a CT scan or IVU/IVP). This will be arranged at the clinic.

What happens next

We try to process results of your test as fast as possible. It may take several days for the results to be processed, depending on what tests you've had.

It’s important to undergo further tests to see if the cancer has spread anywhere else. Tests include:

  • MRI scan (magnetic resonance imaging): Magnetic and radio waves are used to make a picture of all of the body’s tissues.
  • Bone scan: This is to see if the cancer has spread to the bones. You will be injected with a radioactive liquid and a scan taken of the entire body.

Once we have the results of your tests, we will be able to discuss your options with you and then, if neccessary, which treatment you will be undertaking.

More information

Clinical trials

You may be asked to take part in a clinical trial. Clinical trials help us learn more about the best way to treat specific conditions. To find out more about the Clinical Research Unit visit the website here.

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